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Bruce Springsteen's Long and Winding Road

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Springsteen probably set a record, quite unintentionally, for breaking female hearts when he married actress and model Julianne Phillips last spring. But the betrothal didn't come as a real surprise to the E Street Band. "Seeing the look in their eyes before they were married reminded me very much of me and my wife, Becky," says Max Weinberg. Clarence Clemons knew it was coming after Springsteen played godfather at the christening of Clemons' third son, Christopher, in Hawaii early last year.

"When he was holding the kid," Clemons recalls, smiling, "I looked into his eyes and thought, 'Well, he's gone.' Two weeks later he called me up and said, 'Big Man, I'm gettin' married.' I said, 'I know."'

When the tour finally ended in Los Angeles last October, Springsteen and the E Street Band felt, in Max Weinberg's words, "incredibly drained but incredibly buzzed." The length of the tour and of the shows themselves had a kind of reverse effect on the band. Charged by the unflagging energy of their leader and their audiences, they actually thrived on the physical and psychological demands made on them.

"Of course, you get exhausted," admits Clemons. "You want to pass out. I came close a couple of times. But you're filled with something, that feedback that comes from the audience. You feel so strong that if somebody shot you with a gun you could keep going."

Everybody has settled down in recent months, at least for the time being. While Springsteen enjoys married life at his home in Rumson, New Jersey, the members of the E Street Band are using their extended vacation to indulge their own interests. Both Clemons and Nils Lofgren managed to squeeze recording sessions into tour breaks last year that resulted in solo albums – Lofgren's lively rock-out Flip and Clemons' ebullient pop outing Hero. Spurred by the Top Twenty success of his duet with Jackson Browne, "You're a Friend of Mine," Clemons will be taking most of his Hero studio band on the road for a summer tour. The Big Man may also take up a large chunk of your television screen; he's in the running for future guest-star roles in Hill Street Blues and Miami Vice. But in keeping with his spiritual rebirth, he insists, "I'll never do a role I wouldn't want my guru to see. I won't be a coke dealer, I won't be a pimp."

Lofgren recently spent a working holiday at Neil Young's ranch in northern California, writing material for a solo album to be recorded by spring. He is a permanent member of the E Street Band, though. "I didn't want to be a gun for hire for eighteen months. I'll be there whenever they play."

Patti Scialfa is shopping a demo tape of original material. She wants to release an album this summer. Danny Federici bought a house in his old home town of Flemington, New Jersey; an electronics enthusiast, he installed a recording studio where he composes instrumental music – for television soundtracks, he hopes. Garry Tallent has ambitions in record producing. He just finished production on a charity-rock single by Jersey Artists for Mankind (JAM), featuring Southside Johnny, assorted Jukes, jazz guitarist Tal Farlow and Nils Lofgren.

Roy Bittan continues to do sessions, and Max Weinberg worked as both drummer and mixing assistant of the debut album of highly touted Philly rocker John Eddie. Weinberg, who published a book called The Big Beat, a collection of interviews he conducted with great rock drummers, is also touring as a solo act – on the college lecture circuit, talking about both his drumming and life with you-know-who.

But Bruce only has to nod his head and everyone will jump back to E Street again. At a New Year's Eve party for the band at his home, Springsteen suggested getting together periodically for jam sessions, hinting that he already had some new material ready. "There isn't anybody in the E Street Band who wouldn't immediately drop what they're doing," declares Weinberg. In fact, they were all very sorry to see the tour end.

"On the last night, I cried," Weinberg admits. "There's a video clip that I saw on Entertainment Tonight. We were all lined up, and I can see tears in my eyes. I can see tears in everybody's eyes. When Bruce was singing 'Glory Days' and he turned around and said the line, 'Boys, we're going home now,' it really struck home."

This story appears in the February 27th, 1986 issue of Rolling Stone.

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

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