Un­seen photos of Bruce Spring­steen

The Mail on Sunday - Event - - CONTENTS - BY GRAEME THOM­SON

He’s the real thing,’ says Frank Ste­fanko of the man he has spent four decades pho­tograph­ing. ‘Bruce Spring­steen isn’t a chameleon like David Bowie. When I’m shoot­ing Bruce, I don’t have the songs in mind, or the per­sona. I just see the man in front of me.’ Ste­fanko’s stun­ning new book, Fur­ther

Up The Road, spans 40 years of Boss Time. It be­gins with their first meet­ing in 1978 to cook up the iconic cover for Spring­steen’s al­bum, Dark­ness On The Edge Of Town, en­com­passes live per­for­mances and ses­sions for The River, Ne­braska and the 2005 al­bum

Devils & Dust, and ends with an in­ti­mate shoot at Spring­steen’s farm ear­lier this year.

Back in 1978, pho­tog­ra­pher and sub­ject bonded im­me­di­ately. ‘ We were both New Jersey kids who loved the sea shore and mu­sic,’ says Ste­fanko. ‘ We both had Ital­ian moth­ers, we both came from blue-col­lar fam­i­lies. There was a har­mony there, which made our work­ing re­la­tion­ship go very smoothly. Bruce would call up and say, “Hey Frankie, let’s do some photos and have some fun!” He’d drive down to my house in South Jersey and we’d work non-stop. One foggy night, we were out in the streets un­til two in the morn­ing, so he slept over. One of my sons was nice enough to give up his bed.’

Their re­la­tion­ship has al­ways been col­lab­o­ra­tive but Spring­steen has the fi­nal say. ‘He got nick­named The Boss be­cause he took charge, and that in­cludes the graph­ics. He has to sign off on ev­ery­thing.’

Along­side the ex­u­ber­ance of Spring­steen the per­former, the pho­to­graphs re­veal a more som­bre char­ac­ter: sit­ting pen­sively on a bed while writ­ing songs for Ne­braska;

ex­hausted af­ter cam­paign­ing – in vain – for John Kelly dur­ing the 2004 US elec­tion.

‘He’s very quiet most of the time,’ says Ste­fanko. ‘Very re­flec­tive. As he grew in fame and for­tune I thought, this has got to be the hap­pi­est guy in the world, he’s got ev­ery­thing! But he’s also an artist, and artists strug­gle with things.’

Fur­ther Up The Road doesn’t sim­ply il­lus­trate the evo­lu­tion of a mu­sic le­gend. For Ste­fanko, it tracks the per­sonal jour­ney of an old friend from youth to ma­tu­rity. ‘ He has evolved from a rel­a­tively un­e­d­u­cated street kid into a very worldly, as­tute and classy hu­man be­ing. This punk has turned into quite the so­phis­ti­cated man! I’m very e proud of him for that.’ ‘Bruce Spring­steen: Fur­ther Up The Road’ by Frank Ste­fanko is pub­lished on Nov 6 by Wall of Sound Edi­tions, price £305

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