After 139 shows, eleven and a half months on the road and enough fried chicken to feed Latvia for a week, Bruce Springsteen finally wrapped up his 1980-1981 tour with the second of two shows at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Coliseum on September 14th. “This has been the best year of my life,” said Springsteen, who played to more than a million people during his American and European excursions, at an average venue capacity exceeding ninety-nine percent.
High spirits and high jinks key-noted the final gig. Springsteen seasoned his typical three-hour set with Tommy James and the Shondells’ “Mony Mony,” which he dropped into his Mitch Ryder medley. (It seems Springsteen first performed the song at a Chicago gig, after band members and associates frantically called coast-to-coast during intermission to find the lyrics.) During one of the encores, two E Street Band crew members disguised as cops began hanging out at both ends of the stage, threatening to terminate the show, which was running overtime. Eventually, the two impostors sprang forward and carried Springsteen to the back of the stage, where he broke away and continued to sing without missing a beat.
After the show, the band repaired to its hotel suite for an intimate but rowdy end-of-the-tour celebration, highlighted by saxophonist Clarence Clemons’ lethal Kahuna punch and Springsteen’s own party tapes (“heavy on the Dave Clark Five and Jr. Walker,” said one attendee). The bash, dubbed “The Concluding Rites of Bossmania 1981,” roared on until sunrise, when Springsteen dashed to the windows to shut out the dawn’s early light.
Further plans for the band remain sketchy. Springsteen may contribute a cut to Lucy Simon’s In Harmony 2, a benefit LP for the Children’s Television Workshop. His own recording plans are indefinite.
This story is from the October 29th, 1981 issue of Rolling Stone.