Those Who Inspired Bruce Springsteen
In 1973, Bruce Springsteen released his first album entitled, Greetings From Asbury Park New Jersey. Comparisons to Bob Dylan ran rampart. Springsteen’s folk guitar juxtaposed against heavy lyrical imagery could not avoid the compassions. In many ways they dressed the same and had even a similar look. Bob Dylan was still one of the biggest artists in the music world at the time so for Springsteen, the comparisons were inevitable. Over time, Bruce Springsteen would often reference Dylan’s work especially on the political side and his stance against the Vietnam War as an inspiration.The truth is however that most young people growing up as teenagers in the 1960s were against the Vietnam War. Bob Dylan was the voice of a generation and there was no way that Dylan could not have played a role in Springsteen’s music and lyrics while he was first starting out.
Bruce Springsteen’s second album entitled The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle was a completely different record from Greetings From Asbury Park New Jersey. The album showcased Springsteen’s musicals skills on a far more diverses level. A strong street style jazz sound flowed through the record at key points. The E Streets Band’s experience playing night clubs shined on the record. Bar bands learn so much material to please different audiences in the hundreds of venues they play.
Musicians become inspired by countless artists whose material they must learn as a cover band. Bruce Springsteen and his band mates were playing bars in the late 1960s when artists like Sam & Dave, The Rascals, The Kinks, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and all those great Motown and Stax Records artists were being played on the radio, on jukeboxes and by bar bands every day and night of the week in the 1960s. When you are a bar band musician you live, eat and breath that music. You can hear elements of all of it on Bruce Springsteen’s second album. Perhaps the one artist that seemed to inspired Bruce Springsteen the most on the record was Van Morrison. It is very evident on “Kitty’s Back,” that Morrison’s “Moondance,” played a heavy inspiration on that track.
Bruce Springsteen released his third album titled Born To Run in 1975. The Born To Run album turned Bruce Springsteen into one of the biggest rock and roll stars in the world. It was and still is one of the greatest albums ever released. Bruce Springsteen has often been quoted as saying that it was the voice of Roy Orbison and the Phil Spector “Wall of Sound,” that inspired him the most in composing and recording the album. The Born To Run album was one of the most inspiring record ever released and was the album that inspired countless of young people to go into music. It also inspired artists already established to tweak their sound or compose music incredibly inspired by Born To Run.
Born To Run was such a powerful record that anyone with a heart could not help but be affected by the beauty and brilliance of the music on the Born To Run album. What Chuck Berry had done in the 1950s, what The Beatles, Dylan and the Stones did in the 1960s, Bruce Springsteen had done in the 1970s – changed the landscape of rock and roll and inspired a new from of music.
Artists Like Bruce Springsteen
This section is divided into two camps. Part one are the artists that came after Bruce Springsteen who were clearly inspired by the Boss. Part II is the section that includes artists that were already established before Springsteen but were clearly inspired by Bruce Springsteen’s music.
Originally known as Johnny Cougar, Mellencamp’s first album was released in 1976 entitled Chestnut Street Incident. This was a year after the release of Born To Run. At the time the Springsteen inspiration was overly apparent. Even through John Mellencamp was from the Midwest, his music was clearly inspired by Born To Run. Over time John Mellencamp seemed to find his own voice and became a truly great artist in his own right. However, his first three albums and stage persona echoed Springsteen almost more than any other artist.
You don’t have to be a male artist to sound like or be inspired by Bruce Springsteen. The first time most of us heard of Melissa Etheridge was from her video of “Like The Way I Do.” Her passionate performance in the video blew us all away. It was very Bruce Springsteen like but in Melissa’s own voice. Etheridge would be the first one to tell you that it was Bruce Springsteen who served as her biggest musical inspiration.
One of the greatest musicals artist and voices of the past thirty years belongs to the brilliant artist Maria McKee. Most of us first heard of her as the lead vocalist and songwriter in the very short lived band Lone Justice. The group’s first album was released in 1985. There only other record was issued a year later in 1986 entitled Shelter. Maria McKee continued on as a solo artist releasing albums sparingly ver the next 25 years. Her passionate performances on stage and her brilliant compositions cleay echo Bruce Springsteen’s influence. There are many other influences in Maria Mckee’s music especially on the country side, but it’s not hard to hear the soul of Bruce Springsteen through her music.
Billy Falcon burst onto the music scene in the late 1970s and signed a major label deal with United Artists Records. Billy Falcon’s live performances were very high energy and heavily inspired by Bruce Springsteen’s performances. Billy Falcon’s albums showcased a strong writing talent that should have gotten more recognition than it did. Eventually Billy Falcon had a hit in the early 1990s with the song “Power Windows,” which was produced by Jon Bon Jovi.
Jon Bon Jovi
Speaking of Jon Bon Jovi, many of you will question Jon Bon Jovi’s inclusion on this artist like Springsteen list. However do you really think a teenager growing up in New Jersey in the 1970s is not going to be heavily influenced by Bruce Springsteen. Bon Jovi’s high tenor voice sounds nothing like Bruce Springsteen’s, but the passion Bon Jovi puts into his vocals cleary echoes Bruce. The songs may have that glam metal sound, but there are moments lyrically and chord changes throughout that have that Bruce Springsteen influence. Take a listen, you will hear it.
We name Jim Steinman as the artist like Bruce Springsteen instead of Meat Loaf because the legendary singer had already been performing long before the release of Born To Run. Meat Loaf is a vocalist and performer that is as unique as they come. However, no one could argue against the fact that Bat Out Of Hell was heavily inspired by Born To Run. Half the E Street Band played on the record. Todd Rundgren’s brilliant production masks the similarities in many ways , but there’s no denying the source material was inspired by songs like “Jungleland, Backstreets and Born To Run.”
Bruce Hornsby is an artist with his own unique sound. Many will attribute that his music is closer to the sound of band like the Grateful Dead. However, that’s probably because he toured with them for so long. Nonetheless, the song structures and patterns in the music are similar to Bruce in certain ways. Yet, this in one artist like Springsteen who clearly defined his own voice from day one.
The passing of Warren Zevon was a great loss to this world. Throughout his career Warren Zevon released a string of brilliant albums and songs. We miss him.
We could not compose and artists like Springsteen list without including the legendary Southside Johnny. Knowing that he was included on this list would probably really tick Southside Johnny off because he has been trying for years to separate his identity from Bruce Springsteen. However, when you first three albums were written mostly by Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt and you spent many years in the clubs as young musicians performing together, it’s hard to escape those comparisons. Nonetheless, we love Southside Johnny and being included on this list is a testament to being a brilliant artist in every one’s own right.
Already Established Artists like Bruce Springsteen
There are certain artist in classic rock history that we need to be careful with when implying they were inspired by Bruce Springsteen or even sound like him. These are artist that were well established or were ate latest breaking at the same time Bruce Springsteen was. Nonetheless, we can’t ignore some of the music that these artist released that were clearly inspired by Bruce Springsteen‘s Born To Run.
Bob Seger (Night Moves)
Tom Waits (Blue Valentine)
Some will argue that it was the film West Side Story that inspired Tom Waits masterpiece of an album entitled Blue Valentine. However, I don’t think we are reaching that far when we say that we hear some heavy Born To Run influence in this record also. Blue Valentine was released in 1978, three years after Born To Run.
Van Morrison (Into The Music)
Don Henley (The End Of The Innocence)
We could go on and on naming songs and artists like Springsteen. The music and spirit of Bruce Springsteen changed the rock and roll landscape forever. He was and still is a once in a lifetime artist.