Looking back at the storied musical life of Bruce Springsteen, including his Toronto glory days
A case could be made that Bruce Springsteen is one of the best solo performers in music history. And there would be a lot of Torontonians who might agree, given his long history of electric shows he’s put on in the city over the years.
It all started in the late ’60s when Springsteen started playing clubs with the band Earth and was dubbed “the Boss” because he handled doling out the cash to his bandmates.
Although Springsteen was releasing critically acclaimed albums and touring, commercial success eluded him until 1975 when he released the now-seminal album Born To Run. The release was punctuated by a five-night, 10-concert gig at New York City’s Bottom Line club, and Rolling Stone magazine named the gig in their list of the 50 Moments That Changed Rock and Roll.With success, came more touring, including into Canada accompanied by the E Street Band. One of Springsteen’s first Canadian shows was in Toronto at Seneca College on Dec. 21, 1975. Ticket price was $7.50.
Success didn’t exactly sit well with the Boss, who changed musical direction upon his return to the studio culminating in the 1978 release of Darkness on the Edge of Town. Although it didn’t have the commercial impact of Born To Run, the Darkness tour was so epic that people are still talking about it. The shows were marked by an unmatched intensity and length. In November 1978, Springsteen played his first show at Maple Leaf Gardens.
Springsteen’s next album was The River, followed by the more solemn Nebraska, then came the album that took the Springsteen myth to an entirely new level: Born in the U.S.A., the 1984 release that sold 15 million copies in the United States alone.
His 1985 show at the CNE grandstand is the stuff of legend, with thousands of fans from across southern Ontario invading Toronto to catch a glimpse of the Boss.
And he’s still going! Springsteen plays the Air Canada Centre on Feb. 2 as part of his The River 2016 tour. He released a new box set called The Ties That Bind: The River Collection last month. Concert tickets available on Stubhub.com to the sold-out show, but let’s just say they are no longer $7.50.
In 1985, happy Bruce Springsteen fans started lining up during the day outside the CNE Grandstand for tickets to his concerts at the Ex
L–R: Springsteen in 1975 at his first Toronto concert, at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1981 and at his Born in the U.S.A. tour at the CNE in 1984