The newest chapter of Bruce Springsteen’s ongoing live download series spotlights a show he played at The Roxy in West Hollywood, California on October 18th, 1975. Born To Run had come out a little less than two months before the show and the hype around the album was reaching a crescendo. He’d appear on the cover of Time and Newsweek in the same week later that month and everyone from Carole King to Jack Nicholson, Peter Boyle, Robert de Niro, Jackson Browne, Jim Messina and Neil Diamond along came to the tiny Roxy – where he played six shows across just four nights – to see what all the fuss was about.
This is the first of two shows he played on October 18th, and it opened with a sparse rendition of “Thunder Road” featuring just Roy Bittan on piano and Springsteen on harmonica and vocals. This is the exact “Thunder Road” that opened up Springsteen’s 1986 box set Live 1975–85, but the rest of the show has never been released before today. You can hear Carol King’s “Goin’ Back” from the show right here. He first played the song two days earlier when King was in the audience. Decades later, Robert DeNiro claimed that hearing Springsteen say “you talkin’ to me” onstage that night inspired his famous line in Taxi Driver just one year later.
History was also made that week when David Bowie guitarist Earl Slick saw Bittan hanging out by the pool at the Sunset Marquis hotel and invited him into the studio to play piano on Station To Station, where he wound up playing on every song besides “Wild Is the Wind.”
The Bruce Springsteen Archives are only available for purchase via live.brucepringsteen.net, but a compilation of great moments from the set entitled The Live Series: Songs of the Road was recently made available on streaming services.