Photographer Patrick Harbron on Shooting Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen Toronto 1978

Toronto, November 1978

I have photographed hundreds of concerts and it’s difficult to recall some individually but Bruce Springsteen’s concert at Maple leaf Gardens in November 1978 during the Darkness On The Edge of Town tour was unforgettable.

Bruce Springsteen Toronto 1978

It wasn’t the full Gardens but a configuration called The Concert Bowl, created by putting the stage on the west side of the building instead of the south end, turning an 18,000 seat arena into a space half the size. Of course, Springsteen’s subsequent visits to the Gardens were always in the full size hall and sold out.

I knew Springsteen’s music well but this was my first opportunity to see him and the E Street band perform. They were tight and polished without being glossy.

Bruce Springsteen Toronto 1978

The music was grand but not arrogant. Springsteen and his band were a force. It was refreshing to hear something so true to heart and organic at a time in music when ‘new wave’ was getting most of the attention.

There was little color on the stage so shooting the concert in black and white was an obvious choice. I have favorite photographs from that evening but my first choice is one taken when he jumped into the audience which he did in each concert until the second half of the ‘Born In The USA’ tour.

Bruce Springsteen Toronto 1978

It is, for me, the embodiment of the ultimate people’s musician with his fans. Getting close to the people who support an artist’s music takes more than just jumping into the crowd but there is a unique connection that has always been a part of Springsteen’s success.

Bruce Springsteen Toronto 1984

Toronto CNE Stadium, 1984

I had numerous assignments to photograph Springsteen and his band over a 14 year period and I always looked for that moment when he would join the audience. It provided me with some of my favorite and most telling photographs of Bruce.

Patrick Harbron

Bruce Springsteen Toronto 1984

Toronto CNE Stadium, 1984

Biography 2011

Patrick Harbron started his career in music, photographing the major names of rock and roll. His photography of Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Rush, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Lyle Lovett, The Police, The Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, and many others has been featured as album and DVD covers and in books and magazines.

He has two JUNO Award nominations for album cover photography and his album work is included in the book ‘1000 Record Covers.

Patrick’s work grew beyond music and his work now appears in magazines, advertising, annual reports and books. His clients include Rolling Stone, Time, People, and Business Week among others.

His style of photography, well suited to advertising and design led to photographing ads for Apple Computer, IBM, American Express, AT&T, PepsiCo, Nabisco and others.

Patrick’s work includes photography for television network programs such as Damages, Ugly Betty, Rescue Me, Boardwalk Empire. His clients include HBO, ABC, Sony, NBC, FX Network and Warner Brothers.

Recognition for Patrick’s work includes numerous awards.

He is a faculty member of the International Center of Photography.

His work has been exhibited in various group and solo shows, including, ‘Desert Sea Shores- Views Of The Salton Sea’ at Gallery FCB in New York City,

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From Asbury Park to the Promised Land

Rock Hall Springsteen Exhibit

The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen Rock and Roll memorabilia

I recently visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, ostensibly to tour the Bruce Springsteen exhibit, From Asbury Park to the Promised Land, but also to check out the permanent exhibit of the Rock Hall as well.

The Springsteen exhibit is interesting to say the least, and with the incredible media attention Bruce is receiving now due to the release of the Darkness box set, it’s cool and informative to see the artifacts dating back to his childhood and the last four decades that either influenced or played a big part in his career.

I know most fans seem to focus on his Esquire (Born to Run) guitar, as ever an iconic piece of rock and roll there has been, and his hand written lyrics and notes to his prolific inventory of songs for his many albums. I was duly impressed with original lyrics and outtakes from two of his most famous, and my favourite albums, Born to Run and Darkness on The Edge of Town. But what really caught my eye and spoke to me personally was another piece of writing. Not by Bruce, but a letter written to Bruce by a Mr. Robert J. Burns, on September 17, 1987. Robert J. Burns at the time was a Syracuse New York State Trooper, and a Vietnam War vet. He had written Bruce to say in part the following:

Bruce Springsteen lyrics

“Through the years I have collected everyone of your albums and listening to them has helped me through many a troubled time. The enclosed Stetson is one of the most coveted pieces of uniform of the NYSP (New York State Police) and I (hope) that it is close to your size.”

Bruce Springsteen Hall of Fame

This letter said it all to me. It summed up who Bruce is, and what he means to his fans. It exemplified the incredible connection Bruce has with those fans, a connection that lasts until today, one that may even be stronger now.

Lawrence Kirsch

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Poster Story: From the Laundry Room and Beyond!

springsteen darkness lounge

I was in Music World, a really cool record store in a mall in Meriden, CT. They used to carry lots of import LPs and 45s, so I could keep up with Bowie b-sides and the like.  It’s where I got the first few Sex Pistols singles with the picture sleeves.  They also had a huge section of cutout LPs for $1.99 and $2.99.  You could take a chance on things at that price, and that’s how I discovered things like “Hokey Pokey,” by Richard & Linda Thompson, and Brian Eno’s “Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy).”  It was so great to have a place like that, complete with chatty well-informed hipsters behind the register just 20 minutes from my house.

Get to the point Bill.  So one day in 1978 I was leaving the store when I noticed a cart full of rolled-up posters that were waiting to be hauled off to the dumpster by the mall staff.  They were all rolled up so that the image was on the inside, so all I saw was white rolls of paper.  Except that one of them curled up at the edge, so that I could see a few inches of…a pattern that looked familiar.  A wallpaper pattern.  I walked over and took a closer look.

Yep, it was a 4-foot by 4-foot promotional poster for the then-new Darkness On the Edge of Town LP.  Over the sound of my pounding heart, I heard myself ask if that stuff was trash, and if so could I take something.  They said go ahead so I grabbed the thing and headed for the car.

When I got home, I unfurled it and found that I’d brought home TWO copies of the poster.  I got on the phone to my friend Joe, who’d turned me on to Bruce years earlier, and offered him the spare copy.  I’ve moved who knows how many times since then, but everywhere I’ve called home has featured the Darkness poster on the wall.  The corners are filled with holes from all the tacks I’ve pushed through them, but I couldn’t care less.  It’s not as if I’m ever going to part with it.  Joe and I are still good friends, and his copy has followed him to all the places he’s lived too.

Bill Conlon

Bruce Darkness Poster

I also in 1978 acquired a similar large Darkness poster, about 3′ by 4′, soon after we moved into the house we still inhabit. I had it hung up prominently, but my wife, long before she became She’s the One, was fastidious to a fault. She quickly taught me not to leave a sock out, even in the bedroom. This was the first house for both of us and she had a well developed, and quite good, sense of tasteful decorating.

I was told the poster had to be moved to a less visible spot. I put it in the laundry room. I admit it dominated the laundry room. For about a month. One day I entered that room, an act which she also was teaching me to do with increasing frequency, and something seemed not quite right. The poster was gone. And not just from the laundry room. As it turns out, from the face of the earth.

This is still a sore point that comes up every once in a while. She admits she made a mistake, claiming she didn’t understand how a “poster” could mean so much to me.

The incident did give me license to put “anything” Bruce related in my office, without sanction, for the next 32 years. I doubt if she would have done something like that before we were married, but then, I hadn’t discovered Bruce until a few months after we were married.

Bill, if you die first, can I have your poster?

John Athens

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Inside the Head of a Grieving Single Dad

Bill Applegate

I’m a single Dad raising two awesome kids. I’m trying to keep it together while coping with the death of my wife. I’m attempting to keep things as “normal” as possible. My hope is that this blog helps out other people who are unfortunately in my situation. Their seems to be plenty of material out there for women who have lost their husbands, but not so much for men who have lost their wives. If my ramblings, rants and thoughts can help someone else out…that would be good.

A Classic — Darkness on the Edge of Town
Okay so my hockey team lost today (the Flyers) then the Phillies also were defeated…but I take solace in this. I just watched the HBO documentary “The Promise: the making of Darkness on the Edge of Town”. What an awesome and inspiring hour of television.

I made a list of my top 25 albums a couple of years ago and Darkness on the Edge of Town was number 1. Here is what I wrote back then…

My Personal Number One
No 1. Bruce Springsteen – Darkness on the Edge of Town (vinyl – cassette – CD)

This album is dark and I spent countless hours of my youth, adolescence and adulthood life listening over and over. Songs about letting go, busting out and yearning for more just hit to close to home at various points in my life – “Something in Night”, “Streets of Fire”, “Racing in the Street”, “Candy’s Room”, “The Promised Land” all classic Springsteen.

It’s an album that I owned as a true vinyl album…as a cassette tape and as a CD. I wasted countless hours of my youth, adolescence and even my adulthood years listening to it. It’s a very dark album. Many of the songs are about coming of age, the struggles we go through and wanting to break out for “something more”…it’s an awesome collection of songs.

I can’t tell you how many nights me and my buddies wasted listening to that album…over and over…and how many beers we drank but it was many…and it’s funny there was always one rule – NO SINGING during the playing of Darkness. It was like we just wanted to listen to the words…what was being said…if you got caught singing you were punched and were told to “shut up”. Not many albums had that effect on me, but to me Darkness was like a piece of art for me and for my friends. Listening to it, as silly and ridiculous as it sounds gave me inspiration. I just knew deep down inside that I was going to break away from where I grew up and get out…and I did.

I can still recall some of the deep and meaningful conversations that were discussed and the locations while listening to that album. Hearing those songs always brings me back to a time and place from long ago. A time when things were simpler and less complex yet more confusing if that makes any sense. Even now those songs ring true for me…it’s sort of like an old friend who you haven’t spoke to in years and when you see each other time hasn’t missed a beat. What sucks is I have some old friends that I do miss…they don’t read this blog…they won’t ever know…and I won’t call them, but I have to believe that when they hear those songs…they have the same feelings…

Of all the songs on the album…”Something in the Night” was always my personal favorite…

Something in the Night

I’m riding down Kingsley,
figuring I’ll get a drink
Turn the radio up loud,
so I don’t have to think,
I take her to the floor,
looking for a moment when the world seems right,
And I tear into the guts,
of something in the night.

You’re born with nothing,
and better off that way,
Soon as you’ve got something they send
someone to try and take it away,
You can ride this road ’till dawn,
without another human being in sight,
Just kids wasted on
something in the night.

Nothing is forgotten or forgiven,
when it’s your last time around,
I got stuff running ’round my head
That I just can’t live down.

When we found the things we loved,
They were crushed and dying in the dirt.
We tried to pick up the pieces,
And get away without getting hurt,
But they caught us at the state line,
And burned our cars in one last fight,
And left us running burned and blind,
Chasing something in the night.

Bill Applegate
Monroeville, PA

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1977 Record Plant Sessions Flashback

Studio Bruce Springsteen

Studio Bruce

Hearing about the new documentary on the making of Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town album, I had a flashback:

In 1977 while Bruce was recording the record in Studio B at the Record Plant Studios in New York, I was working as director of publicity and artist relations at Hologram Records, the new label launched by the Record Plant. He was there day and night for so long that we joked about setting up a cot and renaming the room “Studio Bruce.” Yep, he’s a perfectionist. I don’t remember how long “Adam Raised a Cain” took to record, but I heard that line so many times, there’s a permanent groove of it in my brain.

This is how Bruce is: At the time, my youngest sister was in high school and my youngest brother was in grade school. Both were nuts about Springsteen. She took saxophone lessons because she wanted to be like Clarence; he memorized and played the guitar licks by ear.

One day I left a note for Bruce at the receptionist’s desk telling him the above and asked him if he could please give me autographs for them. I went upstairs to Studio A (or was it C?) where one of our acts was recording, and a while later I was paged over the P.A. system. Somebody was downstairs looking for me and wanted to meet me. I thought, who could it be? Everyone from the label is up here. I went downstairs and there’s Bruce standing alone in the lounge. He wanted to meet me and deliver the autographs personally.

Only they weren’t just autographs. He had written my brother and sister each a note: “I hear you’re a fan, thank you for your support, I’m glad you like the music,” etc. We tried to have a conversation, but that was when he was at the semi-articulate stage, and I was pretty amazed to be standing there toe-to-toe with the flash from Asbury Park (he’s not a lot taller than me, and I’m definitely not tall). So I think there were several minutes of “uh, um, er” between us. I’m sure I said “Thank You” a million times, he tried to get out a couple of sentences, but didn’t finish any, and then I think we sort of mumbled goodbye and went back to work.

A couple of odds and ends:

  • Engineer Jimmy Iovine was nicknamed “Shoes” because he always had some fabulous footwear.
  • A Bruce breakfast (not that it was morning or anything), ordered from a local deli: Rice Krispies and chocolate milk. The cute factor cracked me up.
  • The publicity photo session on the roof — I was so bummed that I was somewhere else at the time. But it shows how much time the band spent at the Record Plant; they didn’t leave even to get their pictures taken.

Kris Di Lorenzo

September 24, 2010

Kris Di Lorenzo published what was probably the first review of “Greetings from Asbury Park.” She started working in the music business as a publicist at International Media Associates, the first rock PR firm. Some of her archived articles can be found in the library at, where she also maintains a music blog. Currently she is working on a one-woman show about a rock star on a farewell tour.

The Light in Darkness
Limited edition book — Order your copy here

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