Other NJ News

Bona Grad Reflects on Early Connection to Bruce Springsteen

072bf23af4bf45130d4f_ba5acb697c9efb02f611_c14b6ef469a53fc5995c_bruce_and_mitchell.jpg
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.
072bf23af4bf45130d4f_ba5acb697c9efb02f611_c14b6ef469a53fc5995c_bruce_and_mitchell.jpg

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 Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

South Brunswick-Cranbury

Upcoming Events

Tue, May 29, 7:00 PM

The Heldrich Hotel, New Brunswick

New Jersey's Environment - A Pivotal Moment: an ...

Education Government Green Home & Garden Other

Wed, May 30, 6:30 PM

Cooper Conference Room, The Erdman Center, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton

Artists' Round Table with Performing Artists from ...

Arts & Entertainment Education

South Brunswick and Cranbury Police Blotter

August 9, 2017

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.

PayPal CEO says Rutgers grads need to "Help Repair the World"

May 14, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Dan Schulman, president and CEO of PayPal, called on the Class of 2018 on Sunday to take a stand for social justice as they graduate during a time of unprecedented technological and social change.

He talked about the decision at PayPal to rescind plans to build a global operations center in North Carolina following legislation many considered discriminatory ...

3 Stabbed in Late Night Assault at Party

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Three people were stabbed following a fight at a party late Saturday on Delafield Street between Bristol and Courtland streets, Rutgers police said in an alert sent out to students.

The assault, which was not on the Rutgers University campus, occurred about 11:45 p.m., police said.

They said the victims are not affiliated with the university. All three victims reported ...

3 Flee After Armed Robbers Break Into New Brunswick Apartment House

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Two robbers brandishing a handgun and a knife forced their way into a Hamilton Street house Sunday, causing three tenants - one of them affiliated with Rutgers University - to flee the apartment building, Rutgers police said.

 

The incident came hours after two people were robbed while walking on Easton Avenue early Sunday morning. One of those victims is ...

Belmar Mayor’s Pardoning of Lobster Will Kick Off New Jersey Seafood Festival

May 17, 2018

BELMAR, NJ — With the start of the New Jersey Seafood Festival tomorrow, Belmar Mayor Brian Magovern wants to show a lobster some love.

At 3:30 p.m. on May 18, he will kick off the annual three-day event by pardoning “Lucky Larry the Lobster” on the Fifth Avenue beach and then releasing it into the ocean … hopefully.

“In my power as mayor, I want to pardon a ...

Rutgers Center Battles Noise Pollution Nationwide

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ  - Eric Zwerling got a call this week from a man was living next to a fitness center, complaining he repeatedly heard the loud thud heavy free weights and medicine balls hit the floor.

The man was recovering from having a pace maker in his chest and wondering of the impact of the noise from the gym.

“I’ve received thousands of calls,” said Zwerling, ...

Host an International Exchange Student

May 21, 2018

EF High School Exchange Year announces annual search for student exchange host families in communities across the New Jersey

 

EF High School Exchange Year—a division of EF Education First, the World Leader in International Education—has kicked off its annual nationwide search for caring host families to welcome exchange students into their homes. Last year EF connected ...

The ESCNJ Raises $12,000 From 6th Annual 'Autism Awareness' Fundraiser

For the 6th straight year,The Educational Services Commission of New Jersey's (ESCNJ) Annual Autism Awareness Swim & Play fundraiser on behalf of Autism New Jersey was a great success.

Total funds raised were approximately $12,000, as a result of pledges for laps completed, T-shirt sales, and families participating in arts and crafts activities.

The event received  additional ...

Relay For Life Top Fundraiser Brianna Cagan – Event Set For June 2

When Brianna Cagan’s dad was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, she and her family wanted to do something meaningful to fund cancer research. Brianna, her mom Sue Kelly, and their friends started a started a Relay For Life team called “Pearly Girls.” Seven years later, the high school freshman is the American Cancer Society’s top individual fundraiser for the Berkeley ...