Flashback: Bruce Springsteen Opens for Dr. Hook in 1973 - Rolling Stone
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Flashback: Bruce Springsteen Opens for Dr. Hook in 1973

Watch a 23-year-old Springsteen perform ‘Wild Billy’s Circus Story’

When Bruce Springsteen performed at the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles on May 1st, 1973, he was still largely unknown to the public. His debut LP Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. hit shelves that January amid a flurry of “new Dylan” hype, but it failed to make much of an impact on the charts. CBS still believed he had huge potential, and that May they booked him at their “Week To Remember” Los Angeles concert series with many other artists on their roster. At this gig he opened up for New Riders of The Purple Sage and Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show – still riding high off the success of their recent hit “The Cover of the Rolling Stone.” Springsteen and this then-nameless backing band didn’t have time to perform their full set, but they made sure to break out their guaranteed show-stoppers “Spirit In The Night” and “Thundercrack.” He also played a relatively new song called “Wild Billy’s Circus Story,” a tune he’d been tinkering with over the previous few months. Check out video of the performance above.

When Springsteen and the band got home from their California trip they began recording their second LP, The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle. Bruce also decided it was time to expand the band, so he hired David Sancious to play keyboards. The newest member lived in Belmar, New Jersey, on E Street, which soon gave the band a long overdue name. His presence also created the organ/keyboard dynamic that’s been a key part of the E Street sound these past 40 years.

Thankfully, CBS filmed the Los Angeles show in color so they could show some of the footage at their upcoming sales convention. It’s a rare look at the original lineup of the group. They had another year of struggle in front of them, but everything was slowly coming together. 

In This Article: Bruce Springsteen


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