Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen graduates Freehold Regional High School 1967, goes on to become “The Boss.”

Picture 19

Picture 21I have lots of rare items in my collection. Many I’ve been blessed to have been offered. Others I found purely by chance. Some turned out to be all out battles on eBay and other online auctions.

This one I bought straight out. Something I’ve known about and wanted for many years. And I have to say, for whatever reason, I think it’s hands down one of the best Springsteen items I own.

Bruce’s high school yearbook from Freehold Regional High, 1967.

His picture is priceless.

I decided to write a post on Bruce’s high school days, his homes growing up, his first band The Castiles.

Enjoy the photos and the piece.

He was always the Boss.

Even back then.

Springsteen was born in Long Branch, New Jersey, and spent his childhood and high school years in Freehold Borough. He lived on South Street in Freehold Borough and attended Freehold Borough High School. His father, Douglas Frederick Springsteen, was of Dutch and Irish ancestry (his surname in Dutch means jumping stone) and worked as a bus driver, among other vocations, although he was mostly unemployed, and according to Springsteen’s account, his mother was the main breadwinner. His mother, Adele Ann (née Zerilli), was a legal secretary and was of Italian ancestry. His maternal grandfather was born in Vico Equense, a town near Naples. He has two younger sisters, Virginia and Pamela. Pamela had a brief film career, but left acting to pursue still photography full-time; she took photos for his Human Touch, Lucky Town and The Ghost of Tom Joad albums.

Raised a Roman Catholic, Springsteen attended the St. Rose of Lima Catholic school in Freehold Borough, where he was at odds with the nuns and rejected the strictures imposed upon him, even though some of his later music reflects a Catholic ethos and included a few rock-influenced, traditional Irish-Catholic hymns. In a 2012 interview, he explained that it was his Catholic upbringing rather than political ideology that most influenced his music. He noted in the interview that his faith had given him a “very active spiritual life,” although he joked that this “made it very difficult sexually.” He added: “Once a Catholic, always a Catholic.”

In ninth grade, he transferred to the public Freehold Regional High School, but did not fit in there either. Former teachers have said he was a “loner, who wanted nothing more than to play his guitar.” He completed high school, but felt so uncomfortable that he skipped his own graduation ceremony. He briefly attended Ocean County College, but dropped out.

Picture 91964–1972: Early years

Springsteen had been inspired to take up music at the age of seven after seeing Elvis Presley on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956. At 13, his mother bought him his first guitar for $18; the next year, in 1964, he started playing for audiences, first at a trailer park on New Jersey Route 34 and then at a local Elks Lodge. In 1965, Springsteen’s mother took out a loan to buy her 16-year-old son a $60 Kent guitar, an act he subsequently memorialized in his song “The Wish”.

In the same year, he went to the house of Tex and Marion Vinyard, who sponsored young bands in town. They helped him become the lead guitarist and subsequently the lead singer of The Castiles.

The Castiles recorded two original songs at a public recording studio in Brick Township and played a variety of venues, including Cafe Wha? in Greenwich Village. Marion Vinyard said that she believed the young Springsteen when he promised he would make it big.

Picture 7

The link above shows some of the first photos of Bruce and his band. They are awesome.

Picture 10Picture 15Called for induction when he was 18, Springsteen failed his physical examination and did not serve in Vietnam. In an interview in Rolling Stone magazine in 1984, he said, “When I got on the bus to go take my physical, I thought one thing: I ain’t goin’.” He had suffered a concussion in a motorcycle accident when he was 17, and this together with his “crazy” behavior at induction and not taking the tests, was enough to get him a 4F.

In the late 1960s, Springsteen performed briefly in a power trio known as Earth, playing in clubs in New Jersey. Springsteen acquired the nickname “The Boss” during this period as when he played club gigs with a band he took on the task of collecting the band’s nightly pay and distributing it amongst his bandmates. Springsteen is not fond of this nickname, due to his dislike of bosses, but seems to have since given it a tacit acceptance. Previously he had the nickname “Doctor”.

New Jersey beach towns such as Asbury Park inspired the themes of ordinary life in Bruce Springsteen’s music.

From 1969 through early 1971, Springsteen performed with Steel Mill, which also featured Danny Federici, Vini Lopez, Vinnie Roslin and later Steve Van Zandt and Robbin Thompson. They went on to play the mid-Atlantic college circuit, and also briefly in California. In January 1970 well-known San Francisco Examiner music critic Philip Elwood gave Springsteen credibility in his glowing assessment of Steel Mill: “I have never been so overwhelmed by totally unknown talent.” Elwood went on to praise their “cohesive musicality” and, in particular, singled out Springsteen as “a most impressive composer”. During this time Springsteen also performed regularly at small clubs in Canton, Massachusetts; Richmond, Virginia; and Asbury Park and other points along the Jersey Shore, quickly gathering a cult following.

Other acts followed over the next two years, as Springsteen sought to shape a unique and genuine musical and lyrical style: Dr. Zoom & the Sonic Boom (early- to mid-1971), Sundance Blues Band (mid-1971), and The Bruce Springsteen Band (mid-1971 to mid-1972). With the addition of pianist David Sancious, the core of what would later become the E Street Band was formed, with occasional temporary additions such as horn sections, “The Zoomettes” (a group of female backing vocalists for “Dr. Zoom”) and Southside Johnny Lyon on harmonica. Musical genres explored included blues, R&B, jazz, church music, early rock ‘n’ roll, and soul. His prolific songwriting ability, with “More words in some individual songs than other artists had in whole albums”, as his future record label would describe it in early publicity campaigns, brought his skill to the attention of several people who were about to change his life: new managers Mike Appel and Jim Cretecos, and Columbia Records talent scout John Hammond, who, under Appel’s pressure, auditioned Springsteen in May 1972.

Even after Springsteen gained international acclaim, his New Jersey roots showed through in his music, and he often praised “the great state of New Jersey” in his live shows. Drawing on his extensive local appeal, he routinely sold out consecutive nights in major New Jersey, Philadelphia and New York venues. He also made many surprise appearances at The Stone Pony and other shore nightclubs over the years, becoming the foremost exponent of the Jersey Shore sound.

Picture 8The following is a where you might want to stop in NJ if you are a total Bruce geek. I found this list online and it’s pretty awesome.

Here are the must see sites if you’re planning to take your own Bruce tour this summer.

Springsteen lived in three houses in
Freehold. Two are still standing.

1. 87 Randolph St. — Where Springsteen lived until he was 6 years old. The house was torn down to make room for a parking lot for the St. Rose of Lima church.

2. 39 1/2 Institute St. — Springsteen’s parents, Doug and Adele, moved him and his sister, Ginny, here around 1955. The Springsteens lived on the left side of the duplex for about eight years. It was here that Springsteen saw Presley on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1956. In 1984, Springsteen did a photo shoot here that included a shot of him leaning next to a tree. It appeared in the “Born in the U.S.A.” tour book and lyrics sheet inside the album. Residents still see fans posing for photos next to the tree.

Picture 14Picture 133. 68 South St. — The family moved here when Springsteen entered high school in 1963 and lived here until moving to California in 1969 (Springsteen stayed in New Jersey). The Springsteens lived on the left side of this duplex, too. According to local legend, a fan bought the screen door from the homeowner in the early ’80s, thinking it was the screen door made famous in “Thunder Road.”

4. St. Rose of Lima School, 51 Lincoln Place — Springsteen attended kindergarten to eighth grade here, from 1954 to 1963. He came back to the school to play a benefit acoustic show in the gymnasium on Nov. 8, 1996. Only Freehold residents were allowed to purchase tickets.

5. Freehold High School, 2 Robertsville Road — Springsteen graduated from this school in 1967, and is a member of its Hall of Fame. His mother, Adele, accepted his award at a ceremony on April 6, 2006, and read a speech written by her son. One of the comments: “My advice to teachers today is to keep your eyes on the ones who don’t fit in. Those are the ones that can think out of the box. You’ll never know where they’ll be going.”

Picture 126. Vinyard Park, corner of Center and Jackson streets — The site of Tex and Marion Vinyard’s home, where Bruce’s first band, the Castiles, practiced. Tex was manager of the band and neighborhood children hung out here to listen to the music. Vinyard Park was dedicated on May 18, 2002, in a ceremony Springsteen attended.

7. Federici’s Pizza, 14 East Main St. — A longtime favorite restaurant of Springsteen’s. The after-show party was held here following his 1996 appearance at St. Rose of Lima. Springsteen also joined a group of fans for pizza here on July 31, 2004, after they had been working on a home in town for Habitat for Humanity.

8. A brick with Springsteen’s name in front of the Columbia Triumphant statue on East Main Street. Springsteen was among the patrons who donated to help restore the statue. Local officials joked they put “extra cement” around Springsteen’s brick to thwart souvenir hunters.

Asbury Park
Springsteen’s “adopted hometown” is the centerpiece of any Bruce pilgrimage.

9. Upstage Club, 702 Cookman Ave. — Where Springsteen and many others, including Southside Johnny and Steve Van Zandt, started out in Asbury Park. The club is long gone, but the building still stands. Originally a coffeehouse, the club was located on the second and third floors, above a Thom McAn shoe store, from the summer of 1968 through 1971. This is where Springsteen met and played with many of his future bandmates, including Van Zandt, Garry Tallent, Danny Federici, David Sancious and Vini “Maddog” Lopez. The Upstage closed in October 1971 with shows by Springsteen’s most popular pre-E Street Band group, Steel Mill.

10. The Stone Pony, 913 Ocean Ave. — One of the most famous nightclubs in the world. Springsteen has played this stage nearly 90 times, more than any other venue. Most were late-night guest appearances with other artists. Except for private charity shows for his children’s schools over the past eight years, none of the appearances has ever been billed as his gig. His most recent surprise appearance was May 17, 2008, when he joined Mike Ness for four songs. The Pony is so closely associated with Springsteen that many people mistakenly believe he got his start at the club. In fact, Springsteen already had two albums out when the Pony opened its doors in 1974.

Picture 811. Convention Hall, Ocean and Fifth avenues — Over the past 10 years, Springsteen has rehearsed here for his Reunion, “Rising,” Vote for Change, Seeger Sessions, “Magic” and “Working on a Dream” tours. He also began every one of those tours, except Vote for Change, with rehearsal shows open to the public. The 3,500-seat hall was the site of Springsteen’s Christmas shows in 2000, 2001 and 2003. Before 1999, Springsteen had never played the venue. On July 30, 2002, NBC’s “Today” show televised Springsteen and the E Street Band performing live the morning “The Rising” was released. ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America” televised a performance by Bruce and his Seeger Sessions Band here on April 25, 2006. The Rolling Stones, the Doors, the Who and Janis Joplin are among the legendary acts to have also played here. Bob Dylan played a show here last August.

12. Paramount Theatre, corner of Ocean and Fifth avenues — Springsteen played his first billed shows in Asbury Park in more than 25 years here in November 1996, when he played three benefit shows at this 1,600- seat theater on his “Ghost of Tom Joad” tour. Bruce and the E Street Band rehearsed here in 1978 for the “Darkness on the Edge of Town” tour, in 2005 for his solo “Devils & Dust” tour, in 2006 for the Seeger Sessions tour and this past March for the “Working on a Dream” tour.

13. Sound of Asbury Park monument, boardwalk at Fifth Avenue — This 5-foottall, 1.5-ton stone monument (known as the S.O.A.P. monument) was installed on Dec. 9, 2006. It has a brass plaque listing the names of 35 musicians who made the Asbury Park sound famous, including Springsteen, Southside Johnny, Lopez, Van Zandt, Tallent, Federici and Clarence Clemons.

14. Madam Marie’s fortune-telling booth, boardwalk at Fourth Avenue — A fixture on the Asbury Park boardwalk for years. Madam Marie, the fortune-teller immortalized in Springsteen’s “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy),” died in July 2008 at age 93. Marie, whose real name was Marie Castello, became fixed in the imagination of Springsteen fans around the world in 1973 with the line: “Did you hear, the cops finally busted Madame Marie for tellin’ fortunes better than they do.”

Picture 9Springsteen posted this on his website following Castello’s death: “I’d sit across from her on the metal guard rail bordering the beach, and watched as she led the day-trippers into the small back room where she would unlock a few of the mysteries of their future. She always told me mine looked pretty good — she was right. The world has lost enough mystery as it is — we need our fortune-tellers. We send our condolences out to her family who’ve carried on her tradition. Over here on E Street, we will miss her.” The fortune-telling booth remains and is run by Castello’s relatives.

15. Asbury Park boardwalk — In 1972, Springsteen saw the “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.” postcard being sold at a store on the boardwalk. He brought it to Columbia Records and told them that was what he wanted his first album to be titled. “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.” was released on Jan.

5, 1973. Springsteen has done photo shoots and filmed videos on various parts of the boardwalk over the years. He was filmed walking the boardwalk for a “60 Minutes” feature with Ed Bradley of CBS in 1996, and NBC’s Matt Lauer interviewed Bruce on the boardwalk in 2002 and 2005.

16. Casino, south end of the boardwalk at Ocean Avenue — “And the boys from the casino dance with their shirts open like Latin lovers along the shore” is a line in Springsteen’s “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy).” It’s not a gambling casino, but it was two buildings that marked the southern end of Asbury Park’s boardwalk. The carousel house still stands, but the arena part of the Casino, located on the beach, was torn down in 2007. Here is where Springsteen filmed the music videos for “Tunnel of Love” in 1987 and “Lonesome Day” in 2002. Mickey Rourke filmed scenes for “The Wrestler” here in 2008.

17. Fast Lane, 207 Fourth Ave. — Known as the second-most famous bar in Asbury Park (after the Stone Pony). Springsteen jammed many a night here between 1979 and 1981 with Beaver Brown, Robert Gordon and other bands. The building is still there but the bar has not been in operation for the past few years. It was here that Springsteen saw the Ramones play on March 25, 1979, and Joey Ramone asked Bruce to write a song for his band. Springsteen wrote “Hungry Heart” but decided to keep it for himself on the advice of his manager, Jon Landau. U2 played a show here on Nov. 25, 1981.

18. The Circuit, Kingsley Street and Ocean Avenue — “Night,” on the “Born To Run” album, was about cars cruising the Circuit, which was the nickname of the drive around Kingsley Street and Ocean Avenue. “The circuit’s lined and jammed with chromed invaders” is among the lyrics. Kingsley Street is mentioned in the lyrics of 1978’s “Something in the Night”: “I’m riding down Kingsley, figuring I’ll get a drink.” Soon after the song came out, Asbury Park had a hard time keeping the Kingsley Street signs up because many fans took them as souvenirs.

19. Wonder Bar, 1213 Ocean Ave. — Norman Seldin’s band, the Joyful Noyze, which included Clemons on saxophone, played here frequently in the early 1970s. One night Clemons walked from the Wonder Bar to the Student Prince on Kingsley Street to see Springsteen perform, and the rest is history. Springsteen filmed parts of his “One Step Up” video here in 1988, and did a photo shoot here for a New York Times story in 2005. He still stops by occasionally.

20. Cruisin Dance Club, 911 Kingsley St. — This club, which has gone through several names over the years, was the Student Prince in the early 1970s, and Springsteen played here regularly with the Bruce Springsteen Band. It was here in 1972 that Springsteen played with Clemons for the first time.

21. Asbury Park Public Library, 500 First Ave. — Houses an extensive collection devoted to Springsteen and his bands. The collection, dating from 1964 to the present, includes close to 11,000 holdings in multiple formats: books, song books, tour books, magazines, fanzines, internet articles, academic journals and papers, comic books, selected printed items and newspaper articles. This collection is intended to serve the research and informational needs of music fans, scholars, authors and others with a serious interest. It is open to the public for viewing through an appointment. Information on the collection may be found at

22. Corner of 10th Avenue and E Street — This street corner is a favorite photo-op for Springsteen fans from around the world for an obvious reason: Bruce got the name for his band from the street. His first piano player, David Sancious, lived at 1105 E St. Springsteen’s second album, “The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle,” was released in 1973 and includes the song “E Street Shuffle.” Most likely, though, this is not the 10th Avenue from “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.”

Long Branch
23. 7 1/2 West End Court — Springsteen has said in interviews that he wrote “Born to Run,” “Thunder Road” and “Backstreets” while living here. In a 2005 documentary DVD included with the 30th anniversary set of “Born to Run,” Springsteen is filmed outside the house reminiscing about living here, which he did from 1974 to ’75.

24. Monmouth Medical Center — Bruce was born here on Sept. 23, 1949. It then was known as Monmouth Memorial Hospital album.


One comment

  1. Norman Pepe

    Knew Bruce while attending Ocean County College in 1967-1968, used to hang with him at the student center a lot, we were in a few classes together, most notably Mr. Cooper’s Western Civ course. Good guy, guess this was around the time he was out of the Castilles and was breaking out on his own, seeing Bob Dillon on the weekends. As i said, good guy, good sense of humor, quiet most times, wasn’t much into politics – yet. Campus unrest had not really caught on yet, but did soon thereafter. Great blog, those were interesting times.

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