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Bruce Springsteen: See Intimate Eighties and Nineties Portraits From New Gallery Show

As photographer David Rose unveils his “Unseen Springsteen” exhibition, he looks back on documenting a transitional time in the rocker’s life

David Rose Springsteen gallery

See a selection of intimate Eighties and Nineties Bruce Springsteen portraits from photographer David Rose's new "Unseen Springsteen" show.

David Rose

Beginning in 1992, photographer David Rose was Bruce Springsteen‘s shooter of choice for a full decade. It was a time of transition, experimentation and reunion for the rock superstar – marked by his first albums and tours without the E Street Band – as he raised his young family in Los Angeles and New Jersey. Rose documented much of that era on the road, in the studio and at home with a mostly unguarded Springsteen.

A selection of photographs from this era has just opened in “Unseen Springsteen: Intimate Portraits,” Rose’s first exhibition at the Mr. Musichead Gallery in Los Angeles. The show, up through June 2nd, coincides with the release of Springsteen’s new vinyl box set, The Album Collection Vol. 2: 1987-1996, which includes more than a dozen of Rose’s photographs.

Now based in Bisbee, Arizona, Rose first met Springsteen early in his career while assisting Annie Leibovitz during her cover-photo session for 1987’s Tunnel of Love LP. Over the years, he’s worked for Vanity Fair, Vogue and Playboy, but he has special affection for his many memories of shooting with Springsteen, beginning at the famed Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

“For this project, I realized it had been 25 years since I started shooting him, so I started going through the archives and looking through contact sheets,” Rose tells Rolling Stone. “It was a great honor to be able to capture part of rock & roll history on an intimate level.”

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David Rose

Guitar Army

Nils Lofgren, Springsteen and Van Zandt onstage with the E Street Band at the Meadowlands, New Jersey.

“That was at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey. You feel the throbbing of the bass when you’re up there,” says Rose. “I always loved the back and forth between him and Nils on guitar. And I loved the interaction between him and Clarence. They would dance together, and that was all real. They loved performing and had a good time doing that.”

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David Rose

Roll Tape

Recording at the Hit Factory, New York City, 1995.

“Bruce is in the [isolation] booth and I’m shooting through the glass. Out in the main room was Nils and Max [Weinberg, drums] and Garry [Tallent, bass] – and everybody else was in their iso booths. They play live together – Bruce is not alone in the booth just doing his part. They get a lot done fast. Bruce came in with a new song and played it on an acoustic and they took notes. ‘OK, let’s go play it!’ The band was so good that they could go in with their scribbled notes and go ‘1-2-3-4!’ and go right into it and nail it in just a couple of takes.”

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David Rose


Springsteen plays acoustic and harmonica at the Hit Factory, 1995.

“That was probably ‘Secret Garden,'” says Rose. “I was never able to read the lyrics. He’s got his own form of shorthand, I think. [laughs] He’s got notebooks that he carries around all the time. It’s almost like an artist’s sketch pad. It’s interesting to watch him writing them out. I don’t see a lot of cross-offs.”

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David Rose

Slow Dance

Springsteen dancing with wife Patti Scialfa at home in New Jersey.

“I’ve done a lot of personal photos for him over the years – they’re family moments,” explains Rose. “I was happy that he used this on a book called Songs. He had music on the jukebox and was dancing with Patti. It says everything about his life – having a good time and dancing with his girl.”

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