Bruce Springsteen Recalls Being Homeless And Broke Before Getting Signed
Although Bruce Springsteen is now a music icon with around $650 million net worth, it seems he didn’t have a penny to bless himself with before signing a deal with Columbia Records. Speaking to Howard Stern in a recent interview, the Boss recalled those days and revealed how he ended up starting a professional musical career.
“Mike Bell, my manager, has somehow talked his way into John Hammond’s office,” recalled Bruce Springsteen. “Now I know who John Hammond is; signed Dylan, Billie Holiday. This guy signed everybody, and I’m telling myself, ‘I’ve got nothing to lose.’ The worst I’m going to be is exactly like I am. I almost convinced myself it was true until I sat down and looked across.”
Springsteen continued, “It was a tiny little room, [I] looked across, a little desk, and there was John Hammond, gray suit, flat gray top, tie, shirt, feet up on the desk, resting back. So, Mike Bell, my manager at the time, said a bunch of stuff like, ‘Oh, we’re just in here to see if you got any-‘ I mean, he just started to get… He went insane. So, Hammond was ready to kill us or throw us out. He finally said, ‘Look, just play me something.’ I just went [plays ‘It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City’], and he said, ‘You got to be on Columbia Records.'”
“I was homeless. I was nearly homeless; I was living in a sleeping bag on my buddy’s floor,” admitted the Boss before talking about his first record and the pressure he felt. “John Hammond wanted me to make a record with just the guitar. I had a band, so I tried to get the band onto the record. I finally could get the band’s rhythm section onto the record, but I couldn’t use any electric guitar.”
Then the singer explained, “They didn’t want me to use an electric guitar because it was the day of the singer-songwriter. So, James Taylor, and these all the big names [were achieving success]. The day of the singer-songwriter. They were looking for the new Dylan. They didn’t even know I played with a band when I signed. They had no idea that I had any rock jobs whatsoever.”
So, it turns out that Bruce Springsteen rose to fame thanks to his manager Mike Bell’s efforts. With John Hammond’s help, he got signed to Columbia Records and took the first step toward becoming a famous singer-songwriter. However, the Boss didn’t forget where he came from: he didn’t have a roof over his head before signing with a label.