4. Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen spent years crafting songs as a member of various New Jersey bands before writing the material he released on his 1973 debut LP Greetings From Asbury Park. His work grew by leaps and bounds by the time of Born To Run's release in 1975 when he learned to tell a stronger story by using fewer words. He's since become one of the great American songwriters of the past century, rivaled only by Bob Dylan and a few others. "He was the first whiff of Scorsese," Bono said at Springsteen's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999. "The first hint of Patti Smith, Elvis Costello and the Clash. He was the end of long hair, brown rice and bell bottoms. He was the end of the 20-minute drum solo. It was good night, Haight-Ashbury; hello, Asbury Park."