Unseen photos of Bruce Springsteen
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