Other NJ News

Bona Grad Reflects on Early Connection to Bruce Springsteen

Backstage at a 1973 Central Park concert are (from left) Peter Knobler, Greg Mitchell, Bruce Springsteen and keyboardist David Sancious, an early member of the E Street Band.

Tickets sold out in a matter of minutes for rock ‘n’ and roll legend Bruce Springsteen’s Feb. 25 “The River Tour” concert at Buffalo’s First Niagara Center.

Things happened a little differently nearly 45 years ago in December of 1972 when a young Springsteen got ready to take the stage at Sing Sing Prison for a concert his manager arranged as a publicity stunt of sorts. 

The manager had invited folk from all sorts of press outlets, but almost none of them showed up at the prison that is some 30 miles outside of New York City.

Sign Up for E-News

In the audience sat Peter Knobler and Greg Mitchell, editors at the rock music magazine Crawdaddy.

Mitchell, who had graduated from St. Bonaventure University with a journalism degree two years earlier, had quickly worked his way up in the journalism world and held the position of the magazine’s senior editor.

“He had not released his first record yet,” Mitchell said, adding Springsteen, relatively unknown, had often been described wrongly as the next Bob Dylan. "It happened that I was invited to attend his first concert with his band before his record came out.”  

Mitchell recalled that he and Knobler, greatly impressed by that initial live performance, had the chance to listen again to Springsteen that same night at Kenny’s Castaways, a club in New York City. There, the two editors became friends with the musician, who had already signed with Columbia Records.

“There are plenty of press stunts that don’t work out or you say, ‘Well, this is kind of fun, but the artist kind of sucks,’ ” Mitchell said. “So there was no guarantee that we were going to like him, especially to the extent that we did.”

Following the performances, Mitchell assisted Knobler in obtaining the first interview and writing the first profile of the rock ‘n’ roll musician.

“We decided that contrary to what anyone had ever done before, we were going to write like a 10,000-word feature about this guy no one had ever heard of because we thought he was great and he would become a star,” Mitchell said.

But Springsteen did not become a star right away. As Mitchell recalled, neither Springsteen’s first nor his second albums became chart toppers. It was not until 1975, when Springsteen released his third studio album, Born to Run, that Springsteen really found stardom, Mitchell added.

“But we kept supporting him,” said Mitchell, referring to Springsteen’s early trial years. “The first three or so years of his career were very touch and go. Crawdaddy was not only first but also his strongest supporter in those kind of crucial years.”

And, according to Mitchell, when Springsteen’s Born to Run moved him toward the top of the charts, Crawdaddy again honored the musician, this time with Springsteen’s first cover story, which was on newsstands before Springsteen graced the covers of Time and Newsweek. Crawdaddy did the same when the rock star released his fourth album, Darkness on the Edge of Town, in 1978.

When Crawdaddy went out of business at the end of the 1970s, Mitchell took his writing in a whole new direction—writing books and editing historical and political magazines.

“My rock ‘n’ roll days were sort of over,” he said.

His connection to Springsteen did not end. “Bruce and I had reconnected a few years later, and he actually ended up writing the preface to my one of my books,” he said, referring to his work titled So Wrong for So Long, published in 2008. “It was sort of like coming full circle. He did me a big favor many so many years later after we wrote about him for Crawdaddy.”

Mitchell, a Niagara Falls native, did not start out writing about rock ‘n’ roll. Growing up, Mitchell enjoyed reading comics about Superman—but not just for the excitement of the daring rescues thanks to the superhero. “We all read the Superman Comics,” he said. “My friends wanted to be Superman, and I wanted to be Clark Kent.”

As a university student, he wrote for The Bona Venture, the student-run newspaper, during the academic year and for the Niagara Falls Gazette (now the Niagara Gazette) during the summer. After Crawdaddy folded, Mitchell served as the editor of Nuclear Times, a national magazine of the anti-nuclear movement, from 1982 to 1986, and later was the editor of Editor & Publisher.

Mitchell, who has more than 26,000 Twitter followers, has published over a dozen books, including The Campaign of the Century (1992), which received the Goldsmith Book Prize and was a top-five finalist for Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He has also served as the chief adviser for multiple documentaries, is a regular blogger and has had work published in both The New York Times and The Washington Post. Mitchell is finishing a book about a group escape under the Berlin Wall, The Tunnels; the movie version will be directed by Paul Greengrass.   

Mitchell remains in contact with Springsteen’s manager, Jon Landau, and memories of the artist have appeared in Mitchell’s work over the decades. In fact, Mitchell said that in The Tunnels, he mentions how Springsteen played in a concert in Berlin around 1988 and spoke out for freedom and the end to the Cold War.

“In a way, we’re reconnecting [because of the book],” he said.

And there’ll always be a hint of Springsteen in Mitchell’s home: A gold record of Born to Run hangs on one of Mitchell’s walls. 

# # #

Greg Mitchell tells the story of meeting Bruce Springsteen in the video below.

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Like

Sign Up for E-News

South Brunswick-Cranbury

Police Blotter

August 2, 2016

 

 

Sponsored by Reilly's Collision Center in Monmouth Junction. Click here and scroll down for the latest updates and alerts from South Brunswick and Cranbury Police.

See the most recent messages from South Brunswick Twp Police Department, powered by Nixle.

Sign up to receive messages by email & text message.

Upcoming Events

Fri, August 18, 9:30 AM

Good Grief, Morristown

Good Grief Volunteer Facilitator Training

Giving Back Other

Sat, August 19, 9:30 AM

Good Grief, Morristown

Good Grief Volunteer Facilitator Training

Giving Back Other

Sun, August 20, 9:30 AM

Good Grief, Morristown

Good Grief Volunteer Facilitator Training

Giving Back Other

Police: Stolen Battery Scam Short-Circuits in Roxbury

June 26, 2017

ROXBURY, NJ - Two men who scammed Walmart stores in several states - by returning for money batteries that were stolen - were caught and arrested earlier this month when they attempted the scheme in Ledgewood, police said today.

A third man purportedly involved in the practice was on the lam, but police said they know his identity and expect to find him.

The investigation began on June 16 ...

Roxbury Man Wants Something Done About Unwanted Tossed Newspapers

ROXBURY, NJ - Thanks to the Internet, print newspapers have been declining for a decade. There’s at least one Roxbury resident who won’t miss a method used by the struggling industry to stay afloat: The free sample paper thrown on front yards.

That person is Emil Ruesch of Landing. He came last week to a Roxbury Mayor and Council meeting and spoke his mind.

“I’m here ...

Summit Mayor Thanks Somerville for Help and Compassion Following Death of Police Officer Matthew Tarentino

SOMERVILLE, NJ - The mayor of Summit sent a hand-written letter to Somerville Mayor Brian Gallagher thanking the borough, its police force and residents for helping her town work its way through the emotional roller coaster that accompanied the unexpected death of Summit police officer Matthew Tarentino, who grew up and lived in Somerville.

Tarentino, 29, was killed in a three-car accident on ...

"Supspicious Package" Causes Alarm at Air Force Recruiting Station on Route 18

June 26, 2017

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - At around 10:30 this morning, the East Brunswick police were contacted by the United States Air Force Recruiting Station on Route 18 South with the report of a "suspicious package" left at the office doorway.  Following the report, the EBPD and Fire Department, the Middlesex Sheriff's office, East Brunswick EMS, and vehicles from the Department of Homeland ...

South Brunswick: Police Charge Kentucky Man With Heroin DUI After He Passes Out Driving On Route 130

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ – Police charged a Kentucky man with driving under the influence of heroin after he passed out at the wheel on Route 130 Friday, officials said.

According to police, Raymond Tucker, 50, of Lexington, Kentucky, was driving his white pickup truck with a passenger on Route 130 Friday afternoon when he slumped over the steering wheel of his vehicle at 2:10 p.m., police ...

Traffic Advisory: Ryders Lane Closed Southbound in New Brunswick

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Ryders Lane will be closed to outbound traffic between George Street and Labor Center Way from 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, June 23 and Monday, June 26, due to a paving project by the County of Middlesex. 

Drivers wishing to access Ryders Lane from the George Street traffic circle will be detoured onto Route 18 and can access Ryders Lane from Route 1 south. 

Traffic ...

Who will they try to buy-off next? Williams-Transco’s Northeast Supply Enhancement Project (NESE): Economic Report by Rutgers & Other Ways this Company Tries to Influence Perceptions

June 17, 2017

Apparently, it is worth millions to Williams to shift the focus from the dangers, risks and damage of the expansion of natural gas infrastructure to local projects that benefit from their money and to contract for a study of economic impacts that omits costs of negative consequences.  Hopefully, the public will not be misled by a sparsely documented report saying that the NESE will bring ...

Keeping Sam by Joanne Phillips

Keeping Sam by Joanne Phillips (Mirrorball Books, 2015)

 

I belong to a great on-line book service called Bookbub, which daily sends a list of very inexpensive and free titles to download on the Kindle. A lot of the books are junk, but some are classics, and a few give an introduction to an author with whom I am unfamiliar, and sometimes very pleased to find. Such is the case with ...

Zwicker & Johnson Bill to Protect Freelance Workers Approved by Assembly

June 27, 2017

(TRENTON) - Legislation Assembly Democrats Andrew Zwicker and Gordon Johnson sponsored to ensure fair treatment of freelance workers was approved Thursday, June 22nd, by the Assembly.

The bill (A-4410) provides that a freelance worker must be paid the compensation earned according to work terms agreed to by the freelance worker and its client, and requires the Department of Labor and Workforce ...

New Jersey Blood Services Declares Blood Emergency

New Jersey Blood Services Declares Blood Emergency

NJBS urges the public to donate to replenish the community’s critically low blood supply.
 

New Brunswick, NJ (June 26, 2017) –New Jersey Blood Services (NJBS) and its parent company,  New York Blood Center (NYBC) has declared a blood emergency and is asking the public to please find time to donate blood at a NJBS ...

Rep. Watson Coleman Statement on CBO Score for Senate Draft of Trumpcare

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman released the following statement after the Congressional Budget Office released its analysis of Senate Republicans’ current draft of Trumpcare:

“How many times do we need to send these failed dangerous bills to CBO before Republicans end their obsession with stripping healthcare from tens of millions of Americans? No ...