Bruce and me, cont'd
When I was reminiscing about my early days of Bruce Springsteen fandom last week, I posted some photos from the mid-'70s and early '80s of Bruce, me, and some others. But in a hurry I was unable to come up with all the photos I had of that era. I've got boxes and boxes of memorabilia, and like the memories they evoke, they're not all that well organized.
Never say die, though. When something old is misplaced, you say a prayer to Saint Anthony, the patron saint of lost things, and keep looking. The other night, while avoiding work, I decided to take another look through some of those boxes, and lo and behold, a few more Bruce photos, which I had taken, emerged.
Here's how close we got to the Boss on Halloween night 1975 in Oakland. This was in the Paramount Theater on Telegraph Street. There was an orchestra pit in front of the stage, and we were in the front row (through the magic of mail order Bruce concert tickets). The show started right on time, because it was a Bill Graham show. We walked down the aisle about 15 seconds into the first song.
The first or second number was "Sprit in the Night," and there's a stop about two thirds of the way through (at "Killer Joe gone, passed out on the lawn"). At that point Springsteen dives into the pit, the lights all go black, and he disappears. After a couple of seconds, he pops up on the other side of the wooden rail right in front of me, and a spotlight quickly finds him. We were actually too close to take a decent picture with my little Kodak flash camera. But I did manage to click off one shot, and this is it:
When he appeared about six inches from my face, here is the guy he saw. Remember, it was Halloween, I was out with the boys, and I was trying my best to be in the costume of a Jersey Shore greaser:
Yep, that's the same t-shirt I was wearing in Winona, Minnesota a year and change before.
Bruce wore his bowler hat for the first few songs, but those sunglasses stayed on for much longer than that. They may have been the same shades I saw him in at Kean College a year or so before. Later on, when the show got to the sweaty parts ("Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)," "Devil With a Blue Dress On," etc.), off came the leather jacket, leaving us with this:
The other photo I was glad to find was one I took at the Performing Arts Center in San Jose on June 29, 1978. This was when "Darkness on the Edge of Town" had just come out, and we got a new, clean-shaven Bruce, whose dream had been realized, as he was finally a star:
After that show, my buddies and I from the Stanford campus radio station got backstage, where I ate a piece of the band's pizza (drawing puzzled looks from "Miami" Steve Van Zandt, as he was then known) while we waited for our brief audience. And it was there that my second and final Bruce handshake took place. It was a fan's dream.
One thing I've thought about in the week since my other post was that I neglected to mention Springsteen's main sidekick, the saxophonist Clarence Clemons. Also known as "the Big Man," Clarence was a perfect foil to the little skinny Bruce. He was black, big and beautiful, and the two of them clowned around gloriously while they were on stage together. There was a subtle racial harmony message there that resonated with some of us. I've blogged about Clarence before, but it's about time I got his picture in the mix here, also from San Jose, as he and Bruce were playing off each other:
When I moved to Portland six weeks later, I had a few of the pictures from San Jose blown up by a fellow who had a photo shop on the south side of East Burnside, around 29th -- upstairs from where the thrift shop is now. His business was called "Sometimes the Magic Works." It was well named. He was helpful, and he seemed like a nice man.