Bruce Springsteen Inducts E Street Band into Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
This is only a slight exaggeration: Bruce Springsteen’s opening remarks — and the speeches from multiple E Street members current and past — totaled in the ballpark of 50 minutes. Of course, there’s certainly plenty of ground to cover in the E Street origin story, which Springsteen did his best to detail at the start of his speech.
“Good evening,” the Boss said. “In the beginning, it was “Mad Dog” Vincent Lopez, standing in front of me. fresh out of jail, his head shaved at the Mermaid Room and the Upstage Club in Asbury Park.”
Springsteen moved on to all the characters in the band during his speech, including his one-time roommate David Sancious (the only one who actually ever lived on E Street, he noted). “He danced like Sly Stone and he played like Booker T, blues and jazz and gospel and rock & roll,” Springsteen noted. “He had voicings on his keyboard that we never heard before.”
Of Stevie Van Zandt, who was wearing a tie “from [his chin] to his feet” the night they met him, Springsteen gushed, “He soon became my consigliere, my dependable devil’s advocate whenever I need one. He’s my comic foil onstage, my fellow producer/arranger…Stevie, let’s keep rolling for as many lives as they’ll give us.”
Each E Street Band member also took the stage to have their say, which led to plenty of New Jersey shout-outs (and love to family members), as well as grateful thanks to Springsteen and his dedication. But along with these positive reminisces were some somber notes. Late members Danny Federici and Clarence Clemons were memorialized early and often.
Clemons’ widow, Victoria, also gave a moving remembrance—and brought Clemons’ spirit to the night in a novel way: She played a recording of him sing-scatting, which he recorded on his phone while in the car.
And in the night’s most touching — and intense — moment, Springsteen teared up when talking about his one regret: that Federici and Clemons weren’t there to accept these awards. He then talked about how he and Van Zandt discussed the E Street Band going in with him when he was inducted as a solo artist in 1999, and how then-uncertain relationships colored the decision-making process. The regret he felt that they didn’t go in with him then was palpable, and produced an incredibly powerful display of emotion and human frailty.
“Your presence tonight honors me, and I wouldn’t be standing here tonight without you,” he said that night. “And I can’t stand up here now without you. Please join me.”
And now, 15 years later, they have joined him.