Bruce Springsteen Revealed the Band That Changed Everything for Him 

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band have become rock royalty, but there are still many artists Springsteen admires. Like many musicians in his generation, Springsteen grew up listening to The Beatles. There was another band that thrilled him from a young age, though.

Bruce Springsteen said one band changed the course of his life

In 2015, Springsteen presented The Who’s Pete Townshend with the Stevie Ray Vaughan award. In his speech, Springsteen spoke about his experience seeing The Who when he was a teenager. 

“I was a young, pimply-faced teenager who managed to scrap enough together to go see my first rock concert ever,” he said, per Rolling Stone. “Pete and the Who were young pimply-faced teenagers with a record contract, a tour and a rude, aggressive magic. They were on this tour, of all things, opening for Herman’s Hermits [laughter]. There was no justice.”

Bruce Springsteen plays guitar on a stage with Willie Nile and Pete Townshend.
Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nile, and Pete Townshend | Debra L Rothenberg/FilmMagic

He said their aggressive performance inspired him.

“It was the joy and giddiness of the riot that the Who managed somehow to safely attain; semi-safely attain,” he said. “But all I knew is that it made me happy and it thrilled and inspired me. Inspired me to a degree where I was in a young band called the Castiles. I was about 16 years old.”

His love of the band did not fade as he aged. 

“As I grew older, the Who’s music seemed to grow with me. The sexual frustration, the politics, identity. These things coursed through my veins with every concurring Who album. I always found myself there somewhere in their music.”

Bruce Springsteen felt similarly about another band

Springsteen had a similar experience when he first heard The Beatles. While The Who made him want to start a band, The Beatles got him interested in music.

“I immediately demanded she let me out, I ran to the bowling alley, ran down a long neon-lit aisle… ran to the phone booth, got in the phone booth, immediately called my girl and said, ‘Have you heard this band called the Beatles?’” he told Rolling Stone. “And after that, it was nothing but rock & roll with guitars.”

Pete Townshend did not reciprocate the feeling

While Springsteen gave a speech about how much he admired Townshend and the Who, the feeling did not go both ways. Townshend liked Springsteen’s early music, but his enthusiasm for the American artist drooped over the years.

“I [liked him] in the early days, but not anymore,” Townshend told Rolling Stone (per Far Out Magazine). “It’s a bit of blood and glory for me now.”

Pete Townshend and Bruce Springsteen stand next to each other in front of a red background.
Pete Townshend and Bruce Springsteen | Debra L Rothenberg/FilmMagic

Townshend did not give much more information when asked what his remark meant.

“Exactly the sense that sentence implies,” he said. 

Still, the harsh words did not seem to upset Springsteen. He gave the speech about Townshend just a few weeks later.

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