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1949-1964


1949-09-23 - 87 RANDOLPH STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ

Bruce Springsteen is born in a hospital in Long Branch, NJ on September 23, the first child of parents Adele (Zirilli) Springsteen and Douglas Springsteen. Bruce's paternal grandfather was 50% Dutch (Springsteen lineage) and 50% Irish (O'Hagen lineage). Bruce’s paternal 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 a 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 paternal 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') is born in 1950.
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1953-09-23 - 87 RANDOLPH STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ

Bruce turns 4 years old on September 23.
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1954-10-00 - 39½ INSTITUTE STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ

Bruce turns 5 years old on September 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.
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1955-09-00 - ST ROSE OF LIMA SCHOOL, FREEHOLD, NJ

Bruce begins school life as a first-grader in this private, Catholic elementary school that caters for grades 1 thru 8. Bruce turns 6 years old on September 23. Bruce’s father Douglas had also attended the school as a youngster (an eighth-grade graduate in 1939).
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1956-09-00 - ST ROSE OF LIMA SCHOOL, FREEHOLD, NJ
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Bruce begins second grade and turns 7 years old on September 23.



1957-01-06 - 39½ INSTITUTE STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ

Bruce parents let him stay up late to watch the last of the so-called 'trilogy' of the famous Elvis Presley TV appearances on 'The Ed Sullivan Show' (Elvis’s first two appearances had been during 1956, this January 6 1957 performance was the infamous 'from the waist-up only' broadcast). Bruce tells his parents he wants a guitar like Elvis’s and, within a few weeks, his mother buys 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.
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1957-09-00 - ST ROSE OF LIMA SCHOOL, FREEHOLD, NJ

Bruce begins third grade and turns 8 years old on September 23. 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.
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1958-09-00 - ST ROSE OF LIMA SCHOOL, FREEHOLD, NJ

Bruce begins fourth grade and turns 9 years old on September 23.
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1959-09-00 - ST ROSE OF LIMA SCHOOL, FREEHOLD, NJ

Bruce begins fifth grade and turns 10 years old on September 23.
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1960-09-00 - ST ROSE OF LIMA SCHOOL, FREEHOLD, NJ

Bruce begins sixth grade and turns 11 years old on September 23.
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1961-09-00 - ST ROSE OF LIMA SCHOOL, FREEHOLD, NJ

Bruce begins seventh grade and turns 12 years old on September 23.
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1962-06-29 - 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.
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1962-09-00 - ST ROSE OF LIMA SCHOOL, FREEHOLD, NJ

Bruce begins eighth grade and turns 13 years old on September 23. It is was sometime during the October 1962 - September 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 second cousin) Frank Bruno.
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1962-11-00 - 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 rent a larger one at nearby 68 South Street from John W. Duckett. 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 relocate to California. Bruce's mother arranges for him to rent the house from Duckett but he is asked to leave after a window is kicked out.
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1963-05-00 - ST ROSE OF LIMA SCHOOL, FREEHOLD, NJ

Bruce graduates from St Rose Of Lima School (eighth 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.
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1963-07-00 - 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 U.S.A. during the summer of 1963, with 4 huge-selling singles released (and all charting top 5 or better) in rapid succession: “Pipeline” (May 1963 - The Chantays), “Surfin’ U.S.A.” (June 1963 - The Beach Boys), “Surf City” (July 1963 - Jan and Dean) and “Wipe Out” (August 1963 - The Surfaris). Springsteen is heavily influenced by these four singles, particularly over the course of the next 12 months.
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1963-09-00 - FREEHOLD REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL, FREEHOLD, NJ

Bruce begins ninth grade (his freshmen year at high school) and turns 14 years old on September 23.
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1963-11-00 - 68 SOUTH STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ

Arguably the first, possibly the greatest and certainly most controversial of all the U.S.A.’s mid-60s garage/frat-rock singles, “Louie Louie” by The Kingsmen, explodes nationally in the U.S. during October 1963, reaching #2 on the national charts in December 1963 (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-1963 to mid-1964. Springsteen, like many aspiring young musicians, is strongly influenced by the single.
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1964-02-09 - 68 SOUTH STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ

Bruce, along with over 73 million other Americans, watches The Beatles’ debut live appearance on U.S.A. television on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’. This, along with subsequent U.S.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.
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1964-02-16 - 68 SOUTH STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ

Bruce watches The Beatles second appearance on U.S. television on 'The Ed Sullivan Show'.
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1964-02-23 - 68 SOUTH STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ

Bruce watches The Beatles third appearance on U.S. television on 'The Ed Sullivan Show'.
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1964-05-31 - 68 SOUTH STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ

Bruce watches The Dave Clark Five's debut appearance on U.S. television on 'The Ed Sullivan Show'.
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1964-06-13 - 68 SOUTH STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ

Bruce watches The Rolling Stones' debut appearance on national U.S. 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 to the television 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'.
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1964-08-00 - 68 SOUTH STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ

Bruce, like just about every teenager in the U.S.A., goes to see The Beatles' debut feature film ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, which is released in the U.S. in mid-August.
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1964-09-00 - FREEHOLD REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL, FREEHOLD, NJ

Bruce begins tenth grade, his second (sophomore) year at high school, and turns 15 years old on September 23. Bruce’s sister Virginia ('Ginny'), although only 1 year 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).
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1964-10-07 - 68 SOUTH STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ

Bruce watches the much-awaited appearance by The Beatles on the popular new U.S.A. teen music TV show ‘Shindig’, the group premieres the song “I’m A Loser” to American ears.
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1964-10-18 - 68 SOUTH STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ

Springsteen watches The Animals' debut appearance on national U.S.A. 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 14 year 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.
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1964-10-25 - 68 SOUTH STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ

Bruce watches The Rolling Stones' appearance on 'The Ed Sullivan Show'.
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1964-11-24 - 68 SOUTH STREET, FREEHOLD, NJ

Bruce watches The Kinks' debut appearance on U.S. television on 'The Red Skelton Show'.
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1964-12-25 - 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 and 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.
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Page last edited by eddy_wehbe on Apr 15, 2013 1:33 pm
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