Preparing my monthly “works-in-progress” box for Crawdaddy, I consulted the usual trades searching for one-liners. It seemed that the latest new Hammond discovery was about to come out with his first album, so I wrote for an upcoming issue: “Solo Jorma Kaukonen, acoustic, produced by Jack Casady….debut album of the heralded Bruce Springstein….live Stones-Stevie Wonder….James Taylor’s One Man Dog.”
Hey, if he was another Dylan signed by John Hammond he had to be Jewish, right? A few days later, in early December 1972, I got a phone call at the office from a brash, fast-talking fellow who claimed to be Bruce’s manager (and song publisher). The manager’s name was Mike Appel, and even before his client’s first big gig or album he was declaring him the surefire hottest act of the decade. He wasn’t afraid to drop the name of Dylan – plus Keats, Wordsworth, Byron and, maybe, Shakespeare. Right. And he also had a bridge he wanted to sell me. On the other hand: I was probably one of the few people in the biz who knew who this kid was, and remembered the Hammond connection. So I kept listening as he shouted in my ear.
What was he offering? Press party? Test pressing? Payola? Well, no. It seemed that Bruce was no longer a solo act. He now had a band and they were about to perform their first show, a publicity event (I guessed) disguised as a do-gooder appearance: behind the walls of fabled Sing Sing Prison up in Ossining, N.Y. Sort of an East Coast version of Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison – minus a star at the center. Well, I’d always wanted to see the inside of a heavy duty prison (as a guest) and the gig was set for two days later on my birthday. So I said yes to the Sing Sing along.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Another Excerpt from Upcoming Book
Shortly after signing his contract with Columbia Records, Bruce played a brief gig at fabled Max's Kansas City in New York, acoustic, as he had not yet fully formed what would become the E Street Band (he had signed as a solo act). In the above video you get the first two numbers he played. And below, from the forthcoming companion volume to my new Incompleat History of Rock 'n Roll web series -- watch the trailer here, which includes more on "discovering" Springsteen back then: