Revisiting Bruce Springsteen’s Mid-’90s E Street Band Reunion
When Bruce Springsteen dissolved the E Street Band in 1989, it was with the understanding that this was a temporary split. On Feb. 21, 1995, he appeared onstage with the musicians for the first time since the “Human Rights Now!” Tour ended on Oct. 15, 1988.
A month earlier, Springsteen had reconvened the band to record some new tracks for his upcoming Greatest Hits compilation. Steven Van Zandt, who left the E Street Band in 1983, was brought back into the fold while replacement Nils Lofgren remained. A documentary crew filmed the sessions, which was released a year later (along with an EP) as Blood Brothers.
Wanting to film a live video of a Born in the U.S.A. outtake called “Murder Incorporated” that was to be included in the set, Springsteen booked an invite-only show at the aptly named New York club Tramps. In between takes, as they waited for director Jonathan Demme’s camera crew to get set, they brought out a handful of their older songs. In addition to the six versions of “Murder Incorporated” required to get enough footage, they performed such chestnuts as “Prove It All Night,” “Badlands,” “Thunder Road” and “Backstreets.” They finished off the evening, which lasted about five hours, with a cover of the Righteous Brothers’ “Little Latin Lupe Lu,” which had only been performed once by the E Street Band since 1977.
The reunion didn’t last long. On April 5, they promoted the compilation with a concert at Sony Music Studios and a guest shot on The Late Show With David Letterman. Five months later, they helped open the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by performing at its inaugural concert at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland.
Springsteen promoted The Ghost of Tom Joad, his next album, with a solo acoustic tour. A full-fledged reunion tour wouldn't begin until 1999. With the exception of a 2005 solo tour and the Seeger Sessions project a year later, he has been back with the E Street Band ever since.