Steven Van Zandt On Having Fears About Bruce Springsteen Replacing Him

Steven Van Zandt recently spoke to 60 Minutes and discussed his opinions about Bruce Springsteen potentially replacing him.

When the interviewer described him as the ‘ultimate wingman,’ the guitarist replied by saying:

“I’m not crazy about the spotlight. I could have been, and maybe I should have been, because, again, you realize that has big advantages, but naturally, I just wasn’t into it. I’d rather be standing next to the guy, let him be in the spotlight, let him take the heat because I like to blend in, actually. I gave up trying to analyze it years ago, but I prefer to be an observer rather than the observed.”

Van Zandt’s Take On Replaceability And Friendship

Then, the host stepped in and asked if he could break it to him, to which Van Zandt responded in a humorous way:

“Do I need to lie down on the couch for this? People always say, ‘Aren’t you worried about being replaced?’ I’m like, ‘No, I can’t be replaced.’ How many best friends do you have for 50 years?”

Little Steven and Springsteen have worked together for years. Van Zandt joined Bruce’s E Street Band in 1975, left in the early 1980s for a solo career, and was replaced by Nils Lofgren. He returned to the band in 1995 and 1999 and has been with them since.

Recognizing Springsteen’s Potential

In 2021, the rocker joined a chat with the Guardian and revealed that he noticed early that Springsteen had great potential and wanted to encourage him to reach it. Not wanting to be a frontman, Van Zandt aimed to make the Boss a star. The guitarist noted:

“I saw something in him that, frankly, nobody else saw. He was very quiet for many years. And very shy. But I just felt he had something. It wasn’t out of being philanthropic: if I make him the biggest star in the world, I’m going to be riding on that train. It was good for me. I didn’t have quite the ambition to be the front guy and take it all the way.”

While Van Zandt never sought the spotlight for himself and preferred not to be the frontman, he still acknowledged a sense of envy towards Springsteen’s commanding presence in a 2021 conversation with Music Radar. Unlike many others, he’s not scared of Springsteen but admires the Boss’ ability to intimidate or impress people.

You can watch the guitarist’s full interview below.