Bruce Springsteen has rocked the music charts for 50 years this year, celebrating the anniversary of his debut 1973 album, Greetings from Asbury Park.
He came out with hits through the remainder of the 1970s with songs like “Born to Run” and “Darkness on the Edge of Town”. But he hit the big time in 1984 with his album Born in the USA, which hit number 1 on the album charts in 1984 and has since become 17 times certified platinum, selling over 30 million copies worldwide.
As he was preparing for his tour in 1984, he and his E Street Band stopped by his old stomping grounds, The Stone Pony bar in Asbury Park, NJ. It was there that he first heard the singing voice of his future wife – and someone who grew up just 10 miles away from him in New Jersey – Patti Scialfa.
Springsteen told The New York Times about the first impression Patti had made on him.
“She came out and played onstage with – it might have been Bobby Bandiera or – I forget which local band was playing,” he recalled. “But she came out and played the Exciters’ hit ‘Tell Him,’ and she was very striking right from the beginning.”
Immediately, Bruce and his band invited Patti to join them on their Born in the USA tour to sing backup vocals, being the only female in the band.
Right away, there was some flirting between the two, Patti recalling in an interview with Rolling Stone, saying, “I was wearing some kind of pastel kind of ribbony top [for one of the shows], and Bruce goes, ‘Maybe you should wear something not as pretty.’”
Despite the growing romantic tension, the two were already engaged in relationships when they met, and Bruce was married the year after in 1985. His first marriage, though, didn’t last long, and he and Patti were both single by 1989. They didn’t wait long, either, to pursue each other, dating before getting married in 1991.
Prior to their marriage, they welcomed their son, Evan, and proceeded to have two more children, Jessica and Sam, in the following four years.
Their presence on stage became even more impactful as a married couple and parents, as they would constantly sing duets with each other with so much passion and musical connection. But Bruce says that their separation of being bandmates and life mates has made everything so much easier for them.
“We’ve kind of developed natural boundaries,” Bruce told Variety in 2017. “When she comes onstage with the E Street Band she’s an E Street band member, and when we walk offstage we’re husband and wife.”
While getting involved with another person in your professional field can sometimes be difficult, Bruce says it was nice for them because she had “a lot of understanding of where I was coming from.”
“It was a lovely beginning to what’s been a very beautiful relationship,” he added.
But it wasn’t always easy going for Bruce, himself. When he hit his 60s, he fell into a depression, something he described as, “an attack of what was called an ‘agitated depression.’”
“During this period, I was so profoundly uncomfortable in my own skin that I just wanted OUT,” he explained in a 2018 interview with Esquire. “It feels dangerous and brings plenty of unwanted thoughts. … Demise and foreboding were all that awaited.”
He found support in his wife during these troubling times in his life, writing, “By her intelligence and love she showed me that our family was a sign of strength, that we were formidable and could take on and enjoy much of the world.”
Bruce and Patti will celebrate their 32nd anniversary this coming June, all while preparing for their upcoming Springsteen and E Street Band 2023 Tour that kicks off in August.