What Happened to the Phoenix Girls Who Tackled Bruce Springsteen on Stage in 1978?

Jun. 6 2013

Have you seen this Bruce Springsteen fan?
It could be the dance moves, or the tight pants, or the man-of-the-people lyrics. It could be that video with Courtney Cox in it. Whatever it is, people — ordinary, otherwise law-abiding people — cannot resist rushing the stage at Bruce Springsteen concerts.

It’s a phenomenon that’s led journalist and Springsteen fan Julian Garcia all the way to Phoenix, the site of a stage-rush immortalized in the “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” video. He’s working on a documentary about the phenomenon — I Could Use Just a Little Help — and he’s got one last target for interviews: The girls who manhandled the Boss at the Coliseum in Phoenix on July 8, 1978.

We talked to him last week about the documentary, the allure of dancing with Bruce, and his “Rosalita” manhunt. If you have any information on these most-wanted Bruce fans, send him an e-mail or tweet @JulianG922. (We’re probably past the period mandated by the FBI’s statute of limitations.)

The urge to touch Bruce Springsteen is as old as “Blinded by the Light,” but Garcia’s documentary didn’t take shape until a year ago, during the Wrecking Ball tour. “A friend of mine went to see Bruce,” he says. “He was in the front row and he ended up in a video — like someone’s YouTube video, shot from behind the stage.”

They got to talking about what it takes to get that close — to end up in the pit. “He told me it was a really grueling process, [that] you had to really stand around for a long time. So I just said to him, ‘That would be a pretty interesting documentary,’ not really thinking anything of it.

“It sort of evolved into, ‘Maybe I’ll try to talk to people who have actually done that.'” Since then, he’s been on a social media crusade for Springsteen stage-jumpers, peppering Twitter, LinkedIn, and Bruce Springsteen message boards to track down as many dancers in the dark as he could.

At this point, getting up on stage with Bruce Springsteen is more about careful planning than spontaneous overflows of affection. “He brings up people for basically two songs, nowadays,” Garcia says. For “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day,” off The Rising, some children from the pit are brought up to sing along; for “Dancing in the Dark,” of course, a young woman is brought in to play the role of Courtney Cox Surrogate in the dance that informed white-guy dancing for a generation.

That was not the case in 1978. If the girls rushing the stage in “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” are ringers, they were playing a long game; the video wasn’t produced until 1984, when a song that predated MTV suddenly needed one.

They look, at least, like fans who were so enthusiastic (or so into Bruce’s period-appropriate open-shirt look) that they had no choice but to leap onto the stage and tackle him during the never-ending saxophone outro. Which is exactly why Julian Garcia wants to find them.

The ’70s were filled with fan interaction that seems impossibly dangerous in hindsight; “Rosalita” in Phoenix is kind of the musical equivalent of Hank Aaron rounding the bases accompanied by a phalanx of sketchy-looking fans.

But even for its time, there’s something special about it — something that points to something special about Bruce Springsteen. “I think Bruce almost gives his fans the invitation [to rush the stage],” Garcia says, “just by the way he behaves.

“He’s so open, and so accessible to his fans, that when you go to a show you’re like, ‘Hey, tonight might be the night that I get invited up there by one of the biggest rock stars that has ever walked the planet.’

“It’s not like, ‘You stand over there and let me do my thing, and I’m going to put these security guards between us so you can’t get close to me . . .’ It’s made very clear, like, ‘Hey, we’re in this together.'”

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Rock Star Guitars from Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Jack White and More Featured in New Coffee Table Book 108 Rock Star Guitars

LOS ANGELES-June, 2013

108 Rock Star Guitars by photographer/author Lisa S. Johnson is a collection of stunningly personal and intimate portraits of the cherished guitars owned by the gods of rock. It is a music and fine-art photography aficionado’s backstage pass to witness up-close these six-stringed works of art belonging to Les Paul, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, Lou Reed, Carlos Santana, Bruce Springsteen, Nancy Wilson, Bonnie Raitt, Rick Nielsen, Slash, Billy Gibbons, Ace Frehley and others. The book, to be published by Glitterati Incorporated, is offered for pre-order now at www.108RockStarGuitars.com and will be available at booksellers and online everywhere September 16, 2013. (108 Rock Star Guitars SRP: $108, ISBN: 978-0-9832702-5-6). A portion of the proceeds will benefit The Les Paul Foundation.

108 Rock Star Guitars by photographer/author Lisa S. Johnson features 300 images over 396 pages, bound in embossed red leatherette. (Photo: Business Wire)

This exquisite, 396-page art book, bound in embossed red leatherette, features 300 images that reveal–through Johnson’s signature macrophotography style–the intimate details, etchings, totems, and personal touches that embody the true spirit of the musician and that few–save for their stage crew–have seen from this perspective. Alongside these images, Johnson provides personal anecdotes describing her long quest to photograph these iconic instruments and documents her travels from the backstage hallways of some the world’s most famous concert venues, to the artists’ private homes.

“The first black-and-white pictures Lisa took of my guitars…were wonderfully evocative,” writes the late legendary musician and inventor Les Paul in the book’s foreword. “I never could have guessed she would one day produce the impressive collection of photographs presented here–images unlike any I have ever seen. Lisa’s passion for her subject is evident on every page of this magnificent book.”

In addition, Glitterati will issue a deluxe, limited edition of 540 signed and numbered copies, packaged in a die-cut collector’s box. (SRP: $540, ISBN: 978-0-9891704-0-6). Those books will include a hand-woven, deep purple, silk chiffon scarf, featuring the book cover design. Both editions include a 16-page booklet, “The Inspiration Behind 108 Rock Star Guitars,” with additional behind-the-scenes photos and stories, plus a guitar pick printed with a custom holographic foil design.

108 Rock Star Guitars is the culmination of Johnson’s 17-year journey that began when she photographed Les Paul’s guitar during one of his regular Monday night sets at New York’s famed Iridium Club.

As a former technical sales rep for Kodak, Johnson shot extensively, experimenting with processes and every type of film she had in her inventory. In 108 Rock Star Guitars, she showcases a variety of the last film stock ever manufactured for Kodak Professional and the transition to digital, in her gorgeous homage to image and music.

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BADLAND Review: Something In The Night (iOS) Game

In the spring of 1978, a twenty-eight year old Bruce Springsteen released Darkness On The Edge of Town,an album that reimagined the liberating, escapist fantasy of his career-founding Born To Run as a gritty, realist take on the promise of the America dream. The album crafted a murky, distorted lens with which to view hope and progress. To quote Pitchfork, it was a work of “grim acceptance and pressing on in the face of doubt,” a work best compared to Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. The twin developers at Frogmind Games, despite arriving thirty-five years later, have provided us with a similar lens. Their latest title, released in the spring of 2013 by twenty-seven year old programmer Johannes Vuorinen, is called BADLAND. It’s a gloomy, cruel, and explorative journey through a strange world, and more importantly, it’s a game with enough depth to satisfy both casual and hardcore players.

Lights out tonight, trouble in the heartland //
Got a head-on collision, smashin’ in my guts, man //
I’m caught in a crossfire that I don’t understand

Printed above are the opening lines of Springsteen’s Darkness On The Edge Of Town. They’re words expressed to portray the angst and uncertainty of a young man staring into the future, yet they do just as well to describe the violently cryptic cycles of Frogmind’s most recent creation. BADLAND is an iOS sidescroller, but not one to be taken at face value. The title envisions a puzzling synthesis of Pikmin-brand survival mechanics and Limbo-style art direction, a fusion held tightly together by the glue of an almost Jetpack Joyride-esque control scheme, one that allows for weighty acrobatics and nuanced movement. It’s a synthesis that allows the game to exist on two dichotomous levels: For the casual subway-surfer, it’s an artful, level-based gem best consumed in small bites. For the veteran Cannabalt-er, it’s a puzzling amalgam of visual storytelling and challenging replayability.

While the App Store provides an overly crowded sea of similarly side scrolling experiences, BADLAND succeeds in staying afloat on a raft of ambiance and nixed frustration. Succinctly, the game’s sound design and graphic arts come together to create what becomes a beautifully desolate landscape. It’s a scenic, alien locale smeared with Super Meat Boy’s portfolio of meat grinders and rotary blades. Yet, at closer inspection, the rich, expository detail of the backdrop is brought to attention. It’s hard to focus on the scenery while you’re busy guiding your lemming-blob through an increasingly perilous gauntlet of death traps, but this ultimately proves to reinforce the title’s subtle messages regarding progress and perseverance. As Springsteen belts on Born To Run, “Beyond the Palace, hemi-powered drones scream down the boulevard, Girls comb their hair in rearview mirrors, and the boys try to look so hard.” You may not get a great view of the shore speeding eighty down highway nine, but there’s a sense of place that’s reinforced by this blurred, vibrant backdrop.

Moving forward, one unfortunate hallmark of any level-based sidescroller seems to be the innate frustration associated with failing miserably at the end of a long level. For once, this roadblock has been cleverly avoided. Frogmind clearly understands that repetition should never come as a punishment. To this end, failing a challenge plops you right back in front of the offending obstacle, sans game over screen, so you won’t have time to hulk-smash your precious iDevice into the nearest sewage grate. As the critic Mark Richardson elucidates, Springsteen’s characters, like the protagonists of BADLAND, are “cursed with the burden of survival.” This is something that’s strongly communicated with such a rapid-fire respawn rate, and it conveys similar feelings of cyclical trial-and-error. Interestingly enough, it also makes for some pretty convenient subway sessions.

One slight pothole in the formula, however, is the sense that BADLAND features exceptionally strong narrative delivery, but little explicative detail. This semblance of story helps distinguish the work from its more soulless counterparts, but the game seems to expend a disproportionate amount of energy delineating the setting while forgetting just about every other aspect of storytelling. Springsteen’s ballads have always found way of using Asbury Park (or the United States, full stop) as a foundation for the crafting of developed characters and poignant conflicts. Frogmind, however, leaves plenty of room for the addition of essential plot devices like character and motivation, which are glaringly absent from the title. If you can muster even the slightest sliver of concentration, you’ll likely observe the many demonic rabbits in the background, the origins of which are left entirely unsubstantiated. Even more exasperating is the absence of detail regarding the plight of the game’s hedgehog-like protagonists. You’ll spend your hours guiding them along on some sort of buoyant, forced pilgrimage, but beyond that skeletal framework? Nothing. It seems that Juhana Myllys and Johannes Vuorinen aren’t storytellers in the traditional Springsteen-ian sense, but they’re headed in the right direction.

Ultimately, what Frogmind has created isn’t your standard office time-waster, it’s instead a work that explores hope, failure, and determination in some of the same pragmatically hopeful ways that Springsteen managed while simultaneously cruising the coastal highways of his native state. Just as Bruce croons in the opening lines of Darkness, Frogmind’s title envisions a silhouetted, troubled “heartland” full of environmental hazards and “head-on collisions.” That being said, it’s a strange alien world, and in this way, the setting stands in stark contrast to the homey Americana of coastal New Jersey. The strongest parallels, then, lie in the shared themes, the attempts to explain—through setting and atmosphere (and respectively, lyrics and mechanics), what it means to be both dogged and perseverant. The lemmings of BADLAND are trapped in an inescapable cycle of trial and retrial, a cage that’s all too familiar to the cash-starved characters of Springsteen’s work. Richardson says it best, as he encapsulates the album in one short sentence: “With no chance of escape, you have to figure out how to deal with what’s in front of you.”

Truly, the grungy, outlandish realm of BADLAND stands as a vicious neo-New Jersey, a province with rules seemingly dictated by the undying optimism of an ever-rising generation of sanguine, energetic recruits. Frogmind has a focal design mentality: that a player should learn from their individual mistakes and sacrifices, and when the time comes, solider on in the face of adversity. It’s an expansive philosophy, and one that mirrors the struggles of a young man facing the angst and uncertainty of an indomitable future. “We’ll keep pushing ‘til it’s understood,” shouts Springsteen on the album’s opening chorus, “And these badlands start treating us good.”

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Queuing in Europe : A Smart Guide To Bruce Springsteen Wrecking Ball Towns

A smart, quick guide to those European towns Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band are going to play in, in the next Spring and Summer (Rome, Paris, London and other gems like Turku, Padua, Leipzig and many others). In this book, you’ll find essential, practical information about each “Wrecking Ball Tour” city, including how to reach it, a brief history and the list of tourist attractions you must see between a roll call and another (if time allows you to!). Read it to chose in which towns you prefer to attend Bruce’s concerts, or to decide how long to stay in the city where the show you already have tickets for takes place. And, if you are not a Springsteen’s fan (how dare you?), you can make a virtual sightseeing through main European towns and some unsuspected gems, and chose which to visit.

The book is for sale here:

Springsteen Tour Book 2013

A Smart Guide To Bruce Springsteen Wrecking Ball Towns

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“THE GREATEST SHOW SPRINGSTEEN NEVER PLAYED”

They’ve re-created eight historic Bruce shows, including the legendary Capitol Theatre and Winterland shows — concerts most Springsteen fans are well familiar with. Now, the acclaimed Springsteen tribute band Tramps Like Us has consulted with a panel of Bruce experts to create what they would consider to be the greatest Springsteen concert never played. The 35-song / 4-hour show’s setlist (which can be seen here) was put together by Tramps frontman Mark Salore along with the input of Mike Appel, NJ.com blogger Stan Goldstein, The Light in Darkness author Lawrence Kirsch, and former E Street Radio program director Tom Wilkinson.

The first “fantasy concert” performance will be this Friday at the Stone Pony, as E Street Radio broadcasts from the boardwalk across the street (see below), with two additional performances to follow in July:

• Friday, May 24 at THE STONE PONY – Asbury Park, NJ – Tickets
• Friday, July 12 SHOWCASE LIVE – Foxboro, MA – Tickets
• Wednesday, July 17 at BB KINGS – Times Square, NYC – Tickets

Advance tickets are recommended for all of these shows. More information can be found at trampslikeus.com.

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