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Bruce Springsteen, Made in the U.S.A.: The Fans

Springsteen's followers are convinced he's just like them.

Bruce Springsten fans waiting for his show in a New Jersey parking lot
Ebet Roberts/Redferns
October 10, 1985

As the photograph on the next page shows, there's nothing generic about Bruce Springsteen fans. Unlike Boy George clones, Durannies or Madonna Wanna-Be's, Bruce's legions don't try to dress like him; in fact, they believe he tries to dress like them. They're drawn to Springsteen for precisely the opposite reason that most fans are drawn to a rock star: instead of offering an escape from the mundane by creating a fantasy world of flash and glitz, Bruce glorifies the ordinariness of life. His fans — like these eleven who were waiting in the parking lot at Giants Stadium, at the Meadowlands, in New Jersey, for Bruce's August 21st show — come in all ages, from teenyboppers to parents, and from various social and economic backgrounds. What they all have in common is, quite simply, a love for Springsteen's ideals, and his music.

Drew Murray, 22, is a mate on a boat out of Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey. He's from the Flatbush section of Brooklyn and just moved to Jersey with his parents and his five sisters. His father is a retired sanitation worker, and his mother is a housewife.

"'Born in the U.S.A.' is my favorite Springsteen song. There is no other song, really. Bruce Springsteen is dedicated to his country, and I like that. That's how I feel. He seems very excited when he sings that song,' cause that's him, and he's there for his country. He's just like everybody else – he ain't walk–in' around thinkin' he's something special."

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Jill Zeitvogel, 15, is a junior at Bergenfield High School, in New Jersey. Her father's an air-conditioning salesman, and her mother's a housewife.

"I got into Bruce through my sister, I guess. And through bein' a Jersey girl, definitely. That's my favorite Bruce song — 'Jersey Girl.' I like both the old and the new Springsteen songs — I don't ever get sick of them.

"What do I like about him? He's a fox! He's down-to-earth. He's so cool, he's not like any other rock star. He acts normal. Prince overdresses; he don't dress like a normal person. Bruce'll wear jeans; he don't care. I'm jealous of Julianne Phillips. I'd marry him — he's a fox. He's gorgeous. I seen pictures of him when he wasn't that cute. I guess singing helped him."

Lisa Biscardi, 15, is a junior at Bergenfield High School. Her father's a manager at a computer company, and her mother baby-sits.

"I've been into Bruce since the Born to Run album. I like him 'cause he's gorgeous, and he could sing good — he's my favorite. He's normal. He ain't stuck up like most rock stars. If I met him somewhere, I bet he'd be really cool. I'd love to hang out with him.

"I guess I identify with his patriotic thing, but I don't think about it much — I just like his songs."

Lisa Rezzonico, 16, is a junior at Bergenfield High School. Her father owns a butcher store, and her mother's a secretary.

"Bruce rules! He's been there for so long. He might be twice my age, but it doesn't bother me in the least bit. I like older men."

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Victor Pappert Jr., 36, is a disabled vet from Maspeth, Queens. He spent six and a half months in Vietnam, then was classified as disabled. He became an ironworker but, after seven years, quit due to stress and was declared one-hundred-percent disabled. He has a wife and three kids.

"'Born to Run' and a couple other of Bruce's songs took my fancy, but 'Born in the U.S.A.,' that really hit home. I admire the man — he's a humanitarian. He focuses on vets 'cause he's an American — he cares what we've done. He doesn't shun us. He's got spirit; he motivates us. I hear he's been givin' to charities; he doesn't have to do that.

"About politics, to tell you the truth, I think he's right and wrong. But he does show a lot of emotion. I used to enjoy Simon and Garfunkel, but Bruce — he gives you the spirit of living. You want to take on the world and challenge it. A lot of disco and punk rock is boring; you don't understand what they say. Bruce has an original outlook on things."

Brendan Davey, 18, from Yonkers, New York, is attending Fordham University as a freshman, studying liberal arts. His father's a plumber; his mother used to run a deli. Brendan and Paddi Shea have been going out for two years.

"My sister Mary was into Bruce a long time ago. We had all the albums in our house. 'Rosalita' is my favorite song. I like the way he attracts a lot of energy, and the way he screams into the mike. He brings a lot of people together, but not like a rough crowd or anything. You don't get a lot of weirdos comin' around, bashing heads, like at some other concerts I been to."

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Paddi Shea, 18, is from Woodlawn, in the Bronx. She is a freshman at Grinell College, in Iowa. Her father, like Bruce's, is a retired bus driver; her mother is a housewife.

"I've liked Bruce since eighth grade. The River is my favorite Bruce record — I love it. It's really nice; it has nice meaning. I like mellow songs.

"He's just a regular person; he doesn't come out with earrings and makeup. He sings about things teenagers like to hear; he seems younger than his age. About his marrying Julianne Phillips, I guess everyone makes mistakes! No, she seems nice. I also love U2, Jackson Browne and even a little Led Zeppelin."

Bill Chaffee, 20, hails from Trumbull, Connecticut. He goes to Bryant College, in Rhode Island. His father works for the Connecticut Department of Transportation; his mother's a dental hygienist.

"I been into Bruce for a couple of years. He's real. 'Rosalita' is my favorite song. I also like Eddie Money, Rush, the Doors, stuff like that."

Keith Dudzinski, 18, is a senior at St. Joseph High School in Trumbull, Connecticut. His father works in the old Bullard's machine-tool works in Fairfield; his mother is a housewife.

"I've been into Bruce since freshman year. Greetings from Asbury Park is my favorite album. I like the older stuff best. I like the way he sings and what he sings about — pure American stuff. He tells a story in every song.

"Bruce's videos are straight out — I like that. He's more mellow, not rock or heavy metal. A lot of my friends are into heavy metal, but I'm not. Hopefully, after high school, I'm thinkin' about playing football. Y' know, glory days."

Dave Osborne, 19, is from Pearl River, in Rockland Country, New York. He lives at home and commutes to school at the New York Institute of Technology, where he's studying architecture.

"I'm a major Bruce fan, a big, big fan. I get duded up for all the shows. I wear the flag to every show, and people come up and pat me on the back and say I look great. Bruce fans are one big family. Everybody's got barbecues in the parking lot before the show; everybody'll give ya a burger or a dog. I've seen him nine times, and I saw him front row in Los Angeles. My sister won first prize in the MTV contest, the Bruce Springsteen Roadie Contest, which was to see him anywhere in the country, so we went to L.A.

"I got into Bruce with Born to Run — my brother got the album. I love Darkness on the Edge of Town and The River. Greetings from Asbury Park and The Wild, the Innocent are the most incredible albums. It's too bad he never plays any of that stuff; it's so intense.

"I could see him every night. We were on the phone to get tickets about nine or ten hours. Bruce is — he's America. He is exactly what America's all about. He becomes a rock star and writes his dreams. It's like he's your best friend, and you could sit down and talk to him and know everything he's talkin' about. I listen to the Stones, Tom Petty, Jethro Tull, the Who. I like the Heads, Prince, Billy Joel; U2 is really hot, Dire Straits, the Police. But Bruce is the Man, he's it. My mother loves Bruce, and she's fifty–two and a librarian. She was really mad I didn't get her a ticket."

Amy Human, 20, lives in New City, New York. She's studying acting and dance at the State University of New York at New Paltz.

"Dave [Osborne] got me into Bruce. I'm a virgin when it comes to Bruce concerts. I'm really psyched. I've heard about this raw energy and realness — that's what I'm here to see. He's playing for the working man.

"I've heard Springsteen shows compared to Grateful Dead ones, in the sense that it's no frills, and it's the music that is the whole thing. There's a connection between Bruce and the Dead. I guess my favorite Bruce song is 'Spirit in the Night.' I think he's good–looking — and he's got a cute ass, and everyone knows it. He's the most patriotic guy around. I feel patriotic — it's a real turn-around from the hippie days. It's, like, pro being together in a harmonious way. I feel that."

This story is from the October 10th, 1985 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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