Born in Freehold, New Jersey, he began performing with the Bruce Springsteen Band and Steel Mill, after some early work. Before being discovered and gaining international notoriety, he performed regularly at "The Stone Pony," a now-famous small Asbury Park, New Jersey nightclub.
He began his recording career with the E Street Band in 1973. Upon signing a solo record deal with Columbia Records in 1972, Springsteen brought many of his New Jersey based musician friends into the studio with him, many of them forming the E Street Band. His debut album, Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J., from January 1973 established him as a critical favorite, though sales were slow. Manfred Mann's Earth Band later turned one song from this album, "Blinded By The Light," into a number one hit.
In Boston's The Real Paper May 22, 1974, music critic Jon Landau wrote, "I saw rock and roll's future, and its name is Bruce Springsteen. And on a night when I needed to feel young, he made me feel like I was hearing music for the very first time." (Landau later became Springsteen's manager). With the release of his album Born to Run in 1975, Springsteen made the covers of both Time Magazine and Newsweek the same week, on October 27 of that year. However, a legal battle with former manager Mike Appel kept Springsteen out of the studio for a while, and probably also contributed to the much more sombre 1978 album, Darkness on the Edge of Town.
Springsteen is probably best remembered for the multi-million selling Born in the U.S.A.(1984), and the successful world tour that followed it. After this commercial peak, Springsteen released the much more sedate and contemplative Tunnel of Love (1987), a mature reflection on the many faces of love found, lost and squandered. It coincided with the breakup of his first marriage.
Reflecting the challenges of love, on Tunnel of Love's title song, Springsteen famously sang:
"Ought to be easy, ought to be simple enough. Man meets woman, and they fall in love. But the house is haunted, and the ride gets rough. You got to learn to live with what you can't rise above."
In 1992, after breaking up with most of the E Street Band (Roy Bittan remained), Springsteen released two albums simultaneously. Human Touch and Lucky Town were even more introspective than any of his previous work. Also different about these albums was the confidence he displayed. As opposed to his first two albums, which dreamed of happiness, and his next four, which showed him growing to fear it, these albums saw a finally satisfied and mature Springsteen.
A multiple Grammy Award winner, he also won an Academy Award in 1993 for his song "Streets of Philadelphia," which appeared in the soundtrack to the film Philadelphia.
In 1995, after temporarily re-organizing the E Street Band for a few new songs recorded for his first Greatest Hits album, he released his second solo guitar album, The Ghost of Tom Joad. In 1998, another precursor to the E Street Band's upcoming re-birth appeared in the form of a sprawling, four-disc box set of outtakes, Tracks.
In 1999, the Band officially re-united and went on an extensive world tour, lasting over a year in length and finishing with ten straight sold out shows at New York's Madison Square Garden. The E-United World Tour resulted in a CBS Concert, with corresponding DVD and album releases as Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band: Live In New York City
In 2002, Springsteen released his first studio effort with the full band in 18 years, The Rising. The album, mostly a reflection on the September 11 Terrorist Attacks, was a critical and popular success, and hailed the return of "The Boss".