US rock singer and songwriter, noted for his songs about working-class life in the USA and for his energetic stage performances.
Born in Freehold, New Jersey, Springsteen formed his first rock band at high school. From 1969 he played in New York and east-coast clubs, building up a reputation as an exciting live performer. Although the songs on Springsteen's early albums – Greetings from Asbury Park (1973) and The Wild, the Innocent, and the E-Street Shuffle (1974) – are chiefly exuberant romanticized tales of New Jersey street life, their lyricism earned comparisons with Bob Dylan. An accomplished third album, Born to Run (1975), was greeted with extravagant publicity declaring Springsteen ‘the future of rock 'n’ roll'. He was unable to build on this new fame, however, owing to a legal dispute with a former manager, which prevented him from recording for several years; instead he concentrated on touring.
Springsteen returned to recording with Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978) and The River (1981), albums that take a much bleaker view of US working-class life than his earlier material. In 1984 the Born in the USA album enjoyed extraordinary success, making Springsteen a household name and a national hero, with politicians (including President Reagan) quoting his songs. This sudden success owed much to the loyal following he had built up through outstanding live performances over the years; a five-album collection of concert material was released in 1986. His later recordings include Tunnel of Love (1988), an album of sombre love songs reflecting his own divorce, and The Ghost of Tom Joad (1995).