When Pete Townshend Shed Tears For Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen has been in the music industry for over 50 years, has twenty studio albums, and has given more than 3000 live performances throughout his long-standing musical journey. Some of these performances undoubtedly hold a special place for him. In 1985, he gave an unforgettable performance at Slane Castle, Ireland, to a crowd of around 100,000 people. The audience was so enthusiastic that Springsteen began to fear someone would get hurt.

Later, in his book ‘Born To Run,’ published in 2016, the legend devoted an entire section to his Slane Gig and recalled the chaotic atmosphere at the concert. He admitted that he feared someone would die at that concert, and it would be his responsibility, which had happened in several rock concerts. Pete Townshend was also in the audience that night and revealed in an interview that he cried during the performance.

Why Did Pete Townshend Cry During Bruce Springsteen’s 1985 Slane Gig?

Since making his Irish debut in 1985 at Slane Castle, Bruce Springsteen has performed there many times, yet the memories of that legendary night are still vivid for the singer, as the concert almost ended with a disaster. The show on June 1 drew 95,000 people, by far the biggest audience he had ever performed for. The crowd at the concert was starting to get aggressive, which worried Springsteen and the audience members. Among those worried was the Who’s Pete Townshend. It was also deeply upsetting for him to see his colleague so anxious on stage.

Remembering those moments in an interview with the Washington Post the same year as the concert, Townshend revealed that he cried at the time. The reason he welled up was the pain on Springsteen’s face when he saw the chaos ruling the audience. While stressing that the concert was fantastic and adding that the reason for his crying was definitely not because the show was bad, the Who legend recalled that the fans were getting riled up to the point where Springsteen did not know how to handle the situation.

Saying that he was worried that someone might die at the concert and that a listener actually was brought back from the dead, the vocalist added that this concert was a terrible experience for the musician. The fact that the fantastic and hope-filled atmosphere created by his music was suddenly interrupted by a series of terrifying incidents seems to have deeply affected not only Springsteen but also his colleague Townshend.

Here are Townshend’s memories of the big gig in 1985:

“When Springsteen came to Europe, I cried. Not because the show in Ireland was bad – it was fantastic, uplifting – I cried at the pain on Bruce’s face when they were pulling these kids and shoving smelling salts in their faces and bashing them in the chest to revive them.

He didn’t know how to handle it, and I thought, ‘Well now this is a part of his career, and one of these kids could be dead.’ One of them, in fact, did die, and they actually smashed two electric prongs in his chest and bang, back to life again. It’s a terrible thing to have to go through, a bit of reality suddenly coming into this world of fantasy, vision, and hope.”

The concert remains one of Springsteen’s biggest shows to this day. Springsteen’s paternal Irish roots, plus the star’s peaking career at the time, explain why this concert was so enthusiastically received. Even though Springsteen still remembers that experience with bad feelings, managing to end the performance before someone died must have been a huge relief.