After two years of downtime, Bruce Springsteen is roaring back in 2012: According to multiple sources, he is putting the finishing touches on an album that he will release in the first months of the new year. "He's mastering it right now," says Bob Seger, who spoke with Springsteen backstage at Seger's New York show this month. "He's says it's really unusual and that it's the best thing that he's done in years."
To support the album, Springsteen and the E Street Band will embark on a world tour that will extend through most of 2012, starting with a two-month U.S. arena leg in early March, sources say – including a stop in Austin for the South by Southwest music festival, where Springsteen will deliver the keynote address. The U.S. dates will be followed by a European tour of festivals and soccer stadiums that kicks off May 13th in Spain.
The question that hangs over the tour: how Springsteen plans to fill the void left by saxophone player Clarence Clemons, the spiritual heart of the E Street Band, who passed away in June. At Clemons' funeral, Springsteen made it clear that the band would continue: "Clarence doesn't leave the E Street Band when he dies," Springsteen said. "He leaves when we die."
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This story is from the December 26, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone.