Bruce Springsteen owes a tremendous amount to The Beatles, and he credits the Fab Four with starting his love affair with music. When he was an adolescent, Springsteen was obsessed with the group and was deeply infatuated with one member in particular.
“The keeper was in 1964, ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’ on South Street with my mother driving,” Springsteen once recalled about his first introduction to the Fab Four. “I immediately demanded that she let me out, I ran to the bowling alley, ran down a long neon-lit aisle, down the alley into the bowling alley. Ran to the phone booth, got in the phone booth and immediately called my girl and asked ‘Have you heard this band called The Beatles?’ After that, it was nothing but rock ‘n’ roll and guitars.”
Nothing was ever the same for him from that point, and The Beatles were his musical drug of choice. Springsteen has been fortunate enough to share the stage with Paul McCartney throughout his career and now calls him a friend but, in terms of creative preference, he was always more of a John Lennon fan.
Springsteen made this revelation when Rolling Stone came knocking for their all-encompassing ‘100 greatest singers of all time’ piece, and The Boss was more than happy to contribute his own list.
Sent in as a ballot of 20, Springsteen selected his list of favourite performers, which Ray Charles topped. Lennon was placed fourth by Springsteen, and surprisingly, he couldn’t find space anywhere on his list for McCartney.
Understandably, he was devastated by Lennon’s death in 1980. On the evening it was announced, Springsteen spoke about the late Beatle’s impact on him at the Spectrum in Philadelphia.
Historian Tim English told radio station NJ 101.5: “Bruce said ‘you know, if it wasn’t for John Lennon, a lot of us wouldn’t be here tonight’ and he said Twist and Shout was the first song he ever played on guitar and of course during those years he often encored with ‘Twist and Shout.’ At the beginning of that show at the Spectrum, Bruce said, ‘It’s tough to come out here tonight but there’s nothing else to do.'”
Unfortunately, Springsteen didn’t get the opportunity to meet his hero, but Lennon did offer him some words of encouragement in one of his final interviews.
Lennon talked about how the media enjoy building artists up before tearing them down again. He’d witnessed this first-hand and had also seen it happen to Mick Jagger. At the time, Bruce couldn’t do anything wrong, but the former Beatle knew it wouldn’t stay that way forever.
“And God help Bruce Springsteen when they decide he’s no longer God,” he told Rolling Stone. “I haven’t seen him, but I’ve heard such good things about him. Right now his fans are happy”.
Lennon added: “He’s told them about being drunk and chasing girls and cars and everything, and that’s about the level they enjoy. But when he gets down to facing his own success and growing older and having to produce it again and again, they’ll turn on him, and I hope he survives it.”
Watch the footage below of Springsteen covering The Beatles’ ‘Twist & Shout’.