E Street's Van Zandt on Bruce Springsteen's “Ohio” Blunder: “He Made a Great Joke Out of It” - Rolling Stone
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E Street’s Van Zandt on Bruce Springsteen’s “Ohio” Blunder: “He Made a Great Joke Out of It”

After nearly two solid years on the road, Bruce Springsteen finally forgot where he was on Friday night. While playing at Michigan’s Palace of Auburn Hills, he made three separate references to Ohio before E Street Band guitarist Steve Van Zandt had to tell him where he was.

Springsteen onstage: photos from the Working on a Dream tour.

The Spinal Tap-esque gaffe led to headlines across the globe this weekend, so this afternoon while chatting with Van Zandt for a tour wrap-up piece in the next issue of Rolling Stone, we asked him what happened. Here’s what he said:


“The first time I was like ‘Did I just hear that?’ The second time I looked at [bassist] Garry [Tallent] and said, ‘Did you hear what I just heard?’ At that point I knew I had to get Bruce’s attention, but I couldn’t get it through the rest of ‘Wrecking Ball.’ There was no time to really have that conversation [laughs hysterically]. I’m like, ‘Please, God, don’t give him a chance to do it again before I get a chance to talk to him.’ Sure enough, he did it a third time and I’m like, ‘That’s it. This crowd is about to rebel. They’re going to attack us!’ I just grabbed him and said, ‘You don’t realize it, but you’re saying Ohio and we’re in Michigan.’ He was like ‘What!?’

He just goes to a place onstage. At certain times he’s down on earth where we can have a conversation and a lot of the times he’s not. It’s a full adrenaline rush where you can’t have a conversation. I looked him right in the eye and he knew I wasn’t just saying something casual. It took him two or three times for him to come down to earth and hear what I was saying. He made a great joke out of it. He said, ‘I’ve been worried my whole life I’m going to do that and I finally did that.’ I guess the last gig was Cleveland. Maybe it was that. He didn’t have the city wrong. In his mind he knew he was in Detroit, but somehow Detroit wound up in Ohio for a minute.”


Springsteen, who along with Bono and Mick Jagger appears on the cover of the current issue of Rolling Stone, has been city-hopping since April supporting this year’s Working on a Dream, but carved time out to perform during both nights of last month’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th anniversary concerts in New York. See photos from those historic shows, and read more about the legendary gigs in our new issue.

Springsteen will wrap his current tour by playing his full Greetings From Asbury Park one week from tonight in Buffalo, New York. Stick with RS for a full report.

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The Band on Bruce: Their Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen: The Vintage Photographs
Bruce Springsteen: The Rolling Stone Covers


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