23/09/49 – 87 RANDOLPH STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ
Bruce Springsteen is born in a hospital in Long Branch, NJ on September 23rd, the first child of parents Adele (Zirilli) Springsteen and Douglas Springsteen. Bruce’s fraternal grandfather was 50% Dutch (Springsteen lineage) and 50% Irish (O’Hagen lineage). Bruce’s fraternal grandmother was 100% Irish (McNicholl lineage). Both Bruce’s maternal grandparents were born in Italy and were of 100% Italian lineage. So, although “Springsteen” is Dutch surname, Bruce’s ethnic heritage is actually 12.5% Dutch + 37.5% Irish + 50% Italian.
This Randolph Street house (which no longer exists) was owned and occupied at the time by Bruce’s fraternal grandparents (Fred and Alice). Bruce’s parents were merely staying there for a few years while they accumulated a deposit to buy their own place. Bruce’s sister Virginia (“Ginny”) was born in 1950.
“The site of Bruce’s first residence. The long ago demolished 87 Randolph Street home was located in the parking lot driveway area at the left, where the car is seen in this photo”
23/09/53 – 87 RANDOLPH STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ
Bruce turns 4 yrs old on Sept 23rd.
“Bruce, his dad Douglas and his sister Virginia (Ginny) – photo is believed to emanate from around Easter (April 1954)”
00/10/54 – 39½ INSTITUTE STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ
Bruce turns 5yrs old on Sept 23. Having saved up enough money by living with Douglas Springsteen’s parents on Randolph Street, Bruce’s parents purchase their own place (a 2-family duplex) on Institute Street. This will be Bruce’s home for the next 8 years.
“Bruce – December 1954”
00/09/55 – ST ROSE OF LIMA SCHOOL, FREEHOLD, NJ
Bruce begins school life as a 1st grader in this private, Catholic elementary school that caters for grades 1 thru 8. Bruce turns 6yrs old on Sept 23rd. Note: Bruce’s father Douglas had also attended the school as a youngster (an 8th grade graduate in 1939).
“The St Rose of Lima School, which Bruce attended from Sep 1955 to May 1963”
00/09/56 – ST ROSE OF LIMA SCHOOL, FREEHOLD, NJ
Bruce begins 2nd grade and turns 7yrs old on Sept 23rd.
06/01/57 – 39½ INSTITUTE STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ
Bruce parents let him stay up late to watch the last of the so-called “trilogy” of famous Elvis Presley TV appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show (Elvis’s first two appearances had been during 1956 – this Jan 6, 1957 performance was the infamous “from the waist up only” broadcast). Bruce tells his parent he wants a guitar like Elvis’s and, within a few weeks, his parents buy him a small, semi-toy acoustic (no amp). However, other than posing in the mirror, Bruce loses interest in trying to learn how to play – an interest that will take several more years before it is ignited.
00/09/57 – ST ROSE OF LIMA SCHOOL, FREEHOLD, NJ
Bruce begins 3rd grade and turns 8yrs old on Sept 23rd. It was apparently sometime during this year’s school term that the famous “trash can incident” took place, where Bruce was ordered by his nun teacher to sit next to her desk in a trash can for being naughty in class.
00/09/58 – ST ROSE OF LIMA SCHOOL, FREEHOLD, NJ
Bruce begins 4th grade and turns 9yrs old on Sept 23rd.
00/09/59 – ST ROSE OF LIMA SCHOOL, FREEHOLD, NJ
Bruce begins 5th grade and turns 10yrs old on Sept 23rd.
00/09/60 – ST ROSE OF LIMA SCHOOL, FREEHOLD, NJ
Bruce begins 6th grade and turns 11yrs old on Sept 23rd.
00/09/61 – ST ROSE OF LIMA SCHOOL, FREEHOLD, NJ
Bruce begins 7th grade and turns 12yrs old on Sept 23rd.
29/06/62 – STEEL PIER, ATLANTIC CITY, NJ
Bruce’s mother Adele takes him and his sister Virginia (“Ginny”) to see their first concert – a Chubby Checker matinee. Later that same day they also see singer Anita Bryant perform.
00/09/62 – ST ROSE OF LIMA SCHOOL, FREEHOLD, NJ
Bruce begins 8th grade and turns 13yrs old on Sept 23rd. It is was sometime during the Oct 1962 – Sept 1963 period that Bruce, having saved up some money doing odd jobs, purchased a second hand acoustic guitar (no amp) for $18 at Freehold’s Western Auto Appliance Store. Bruce’s accordion/guitar playing first cousin “Frankie” (Frank Bruno Jr) provided some introductory lessons. Bruce has recently commented on his cousin Frank and this event: “He taught me my first chords. He was super cool. I was 13 and I went to my aunt Edie’s house where Frank played accordion in the living room. It was like Ted Mack Amateur Hour….the first song I learned was “Greensleeves”. Interestingly Bruce’s cousin Frankie performed onstage with Bruce on April 22, 2000 in Raleigh, NC during a rendition of “Hungry Heart”. It should also be noted that first cousin Frank’s son is none other than Seeger Sessions Band guitar player (and Bruce’s 2nd cousin) Frank Bruno.
00/11/62 – 68 SOUTH STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ
With the birth of Bruce’s sister Pamela in January 1962 (and thus a need for another bedroom) Bruce’s parents sell the 39½ Institute Street house and purchase a larger one at nearby 68 South Street. Like the previous premises this South Street house is a 2-family duplex. This will be Bruce’s home for the next 7 years – until autumn 1969, when Bruce’s parents sell it as part of their relocation to California.
“Bruce’s former 68 South Street home, where he lived for about 7 years (late 1962 to late 1969)”
00/05/63 – ST ROSE OF LIMA SCHOOL, FREEHOLD, NJ
Bruce graduates from St Rose Of Lima School (8th grade). He has not enjoyed the strictness of the school (most of the teachers were older nuns). Bruce tells his parents he does not wish to attend a Catholic High School.
00/07/63 – 68 SOUTH STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ
The surf music craze, which had been largely confined to California during the previous year, finally explodes nationally in the USA during the summer of 1963, with 4 huge-selling singles released (and all charting top-5 or better) in rapid succession: “Pipeline” (May ’63 – THE CHANTAYS), “Surfin’ USA” (June ’63 – THE BEACH BOYS), “Surf City” (July ’63 – JAN & DEAN) and “Wipe Out” (Aug ’63 – THE SURFARIS). Springsteen is heavily influenced by these 4 singles, particularly over the course of the next 12 months.
00/09/63 – FREEHOLD REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL, FREEHOLD, NJ
Bruce begins 9th grade (his freshmen year at high school) and turns 14yrs old on Sept 23rd.
“Springsteen in Oct 1963 at the start of his freshmen year in High School. Bruce had just turned 14 at the time. President Kennedy was about to be assassinated and The Beatles were only months away from impacting the USA – big changes were about to take place. This class photo later appeared in the May 1964 edition of the Freehold High School Yearbook”
00/11/63 – 68 SOUTH STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ
Arguably the first, possibly the greatest and certainly most controversial of all the USA’s mid-60’s garage/frat-rock singles, “Louie Louie” (by THE KINGSMEN), explodes nationally in the USA during Oct 1963, reaching #2 on the national charts in Dec ’63 (despite a radio ban in some markets due to alleged naughty lyrics). The single stays in the charts for many months and is all the chatter on high school campuses from mid 63 to mid 64. Springsteen, like many aspiring young musicians, is strongly influenced by the single.
09/02/64 – 68 SOUTH STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ
Bruce, along with over 65 million other Americans, watches THE BEATLES’ debut live appearance on USA television on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’. This, along with subsequent USA TV appearances during 1964 of other “British Invasion” bands, has a profound, inspirational impact on Bruce. He begins to spend much of his time listening to records and practicing his acoustic guitar.
16/02/64 – 68 SOUTH STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ
Bruce watches THE BEATLES 2nd appearance on USA television on “The Ed Sullivan Show”.
23/02/64 – 68 SOUTH STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ
Bruce watches THE BEATLES 3rd appearance on USA television on “The Ed Sullivan Show”.
31/05/64 – 68 SOUTH STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ
Bruce watches THE DAVE CLARK FIVE’s debut appearance on USA television on “The Ed Sullivan Show”.
13/06/64 – 68 SOUTH STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ
Bruce watches THE ROLLING STONES debut appearance on national USA television show ‘Hollywood Palace’. Although they don’t know one other at this point, as fate would have it a kid a year younger than Springsteen in nearby Middletown named Steve Van Zandt is also transfixed at a TV this night. Van Zandt has described watching this Stones performance as the defining moment in his decision to get a guitar and learn how to play. And this is indeed what happened – around August 1964 Van Zandt formed his first band, THE WHIRLWINDS, which performed mainly surf-style instrumentals and which consisted of Van Zandt (guitar), Bruce Gumbert (accordion) and Neils Lybeck (drums). The group spent nearly all its brief, 5-6 month, existence practicing in the garage and did not have any paid gigs, although Bruce Gumbert has confirmed to Brucebase that they did play ‘au gratis’ once at a private party. Lybeck would eventually form THE CHLAN in 1965, while Van Zandt formed THE MATES in 1965 and both Gumbert and Van Zandt would re-unite again in spring 1966 when both joined THE SHADOWS.
00/08/64 – 68 SOUTH STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ
Bruce, like just about every teenager in the USA, goes to see THE BEATLES debut feature film ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, which is released in the USA in mid August.
00/09/64 – FREEHOLD REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL, FREEHOLD, NJ
Bruce begins 10th grade, his 2nd (sophomore) year at high school, and turns 15yrs old on Sept 23rd. Note: Bruce’s sister Virginia (“Ginny”), although only 1 yr younger than Bruce, was actually two grades behind Bruce at school and so did not begin her first (freshman) year at Freehold High until September 1965 (graduating in June 1969)
“Springsteen in Oct 1964 at the start of his 2nd year of high school. Bruce had just turned 15yrs old. This class photo would later turn up in the May 1965 Freehold High School Yearbook. Bruce’s distinctly 50’s, short-haired appearance was about to start changing”
07/10/64 – 68 SOUTH STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ
Bruce watches the much-awaited appearance by THE BEATLES on the popular new USA teen music TV show ‘Shindig’ – the group premiers the song “I’m A Loser” to American ears.
18/10/64 – 68 SOUTH STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ
Springsteen watches THE ANIMALS debut appearance on national USA television on “The Ed Sullivan Show”. The group plays its breakthrough hit “House Of The Rising Sun”. Although Bruce and he won’t meet one another for another 4 years, also watching The Animals’ TV performance this night (particularly the stunning organ work of Alan Price) is 14yr old Danny Federici, who has recently joined his first rock band (THE LEGENDS) on accordion. Federici will later switch to organ when he joins THE STORY TELLERS in 1966, eventually hooking up with Springsteen in early 1969.
Danny Federici on the accordion, performing with his first group ‘The Legends’ during an August 1964 “Band Battle Contest’ at St. John Terrell’s Music Circus in Lambertville, NJ
25/10/64 – 68 SOUTH STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ
Bruce watches THE ROLLING STONES appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show”.
24/11/64 – 68 SOUTH STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ
Bruce watches THE KINKS debut appearance on USA television on “The Red Skelton Show”.
25/12/64 – 68 SOUTH STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ
Bruce’s mother Adele, seeing Bruce’s focused attention on learning how to play his acoustic guitar over the past year and knowing of his strong wish to have an electric guitar, takes out a personal loan for $60 (about $600 in current terms) and buys Bruce a Japanese-made “Kent” electric guitar & amplifier package as a Christmas present (an event seemingly referred to in Bruce’s 1986 song “The Wish”). This is Bruce’s first electric guitar and he immediately immerses himself in fast-tracking his playing skills.