The Day Bruce Springsteen Launched the ‘Born to Run’ Tour
The album that would break Bruce Springsteen's career had not yet been released when he and the E Street Band began their new tour on July 20, 1975, at the Palace Concert Theatre in Providence, R.I. In fact, Born to Run had only been completed that morning.
Needing to deliver the record before hitting the road, the band entered New York's Record Plant for a final mixing session the previous afternoon. They emerged at 10AM – 19 hours later – with the van waiting to take them to 180 miles northeast to Rhode Island. At some point during the night, they set up in the studio's rehearsal room and ran through the songs they'd perform.
The E Street Band had a much different look from the last time they had hit the city in April 1974. Pianist David Sancious and drummer Ernest "Boom" Carter had left in August to form a jazz fusion group called Tone and were replaced by Roy Bittan and Max Weinberg, respectively.
A second guitarist was also making his debut as a member of the group: Steven Van Zandt, who had played with Springsteen in earlier bands, had provided invaluable assistance during the recording of Born to Run, notably the horn charts in "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" and the title track's guitar lick. This lineup would remain intact until Van Zandt's departure during the sessions for 1984's Born in the U.S.A.
The 15-song show, which kicked off the tour, ran nearly two hours. It included only three songs from the new record: "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," "Born to Run" and "Thunder Road." All but one song from the previous album, The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle, was performed, with the rest of the concert was split between Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. material, "A Love So Fine" (which wouldn't be released until 1998's Tracks under the name "So Young and In Love") and covers of Manfred Mann's "Sha La La" and Gary "U.S." Bonds' "Quarter to Three."
Springsteen and the E Street Band remained on the road for five months, with several of the dates turning out to be among the most important of his career, including the early show from New York's Bottom Line on Aug. 15, 1975, which was broadcast live on a local radio station, helped build steam for the album leading up to its release.
Since then, two concerts – Springsteen's European debut at London's Hammersmith Odeon on Nov. 18 and the concluding stop at Philadelphia's Tower Theatre on New Year's Eve – have been officially released. "Thunder Road" from Oct. 18 in Los Angeles opened up the Live 1975-85 boxed set. And the Dec. 12 concert at Long Island's C.W. Post College provided the oft-played rendition of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town."