So how did Eric Meola come to meet, befriend and then photograph Bruce Springsteen ? Over to Eric…
“As an aspiring photographer, I lived in New York in the early Seventies, around the corner from a nightclub called Max’s Kansas City. Then, one night in 1973, I had the serendipity of going to see someone by the name of Bruce Springsteen perform there. He sang what I thought then was a god-awful song with the title “Mary Queen of Arkansas,” and several brilliant ones, such as “It’s So Hard to Be a Saint in the City. That was it. From that moment on, I was hooked.
On Saturday, August 3rd, 1974, I was standing near the corner of Fifth Avenue and Central Park South in New York, when it began to rain. I ran under the overhang of the Plaza Hotel and came face-to-face with Bruce Springsteen, who was about to do a concert in Central Park. All I can remember is that I got up the nerve to introduce myself and ask about some of the words on Bruce’s album The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle. Unlike Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., and every Springsteen album since then, there were no lyrics on the jacket sleeve.
Eleven days later, I rented a car and drove down to Red Bank, New Jersey, where Bruce was playing at the Carlton Theater. Mike Appel, Bruce’s manager at the time, was standing out front, wearing a marine drill sergeant’s hat, and, noticing the camera slung over my shoulder, stopped me. I bluffed my way in, saying I was taking pictures for Time magazine. After the show I saw Bruce in his dressing room and while we were talking he suddenly waved his arm in an arc behind him and invited me down to the Jersey shore. In that simple gesture the imaginary world he had painted in his first album, a misty paradise by the sea, came alive. In less than a year, the “Born to Run” tour would begin in Providence, Rhode Island; less than a year earlier, I had walked around the corner from my apartment to see Bruce perform at Max’s Kansas City.
In the spring of 1975, I took a subway one day to Penn Station, bought a train ticket, and headed south to Long Branch, New Jersey. A little over an hour later, I walked out into the sun and, after asking a few questions, found my way to West End Court, and a small cottage with the number 7 1/2 on it.
Now, as my hand approached his front door in slow motion, I got up the nerve to make a “rat-a-tat-tat” knock on the door. Silence, total silence. Nerd that I was, I looked at the glowing red numerals on my Pulsar digital watch, and knocked again. Knowing something must be amiss, I walked around the corner, to a small, old-fashioned pharmacy, and dialed Springsteen’s number from a pay phone. Nothing. I let it ring. And ring. After several trips back to the front porch, and one more call, the door finally opened. Forty-five minutes later, I was sitting next to Bruce in his flame-painted, yellow ’57 Chevy, cruising with the top down on one of many roads immortalized in his songs, Highway 9. I had a camera pressed against my right eye, and I was shooting frame after frame as Bruce drove. One moment in particular froze in my mind, as he turned and looked at me, with his hair blowing in the wind, and just grinned.
You can see it right here.