Max Weinberg Misses Bruce Springsteen’s Cue: A Real-Life ‘Spinal Tap’ Story
The classic comedy This Is Spinal Tap resonated with bands in part because of the way it showed all the things that can go wrong on the road. For Max Weinberg, the longtime drummer for Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, there was one moment in particular that taught him a lesson about not having a wandering eye during a gig.
In an interview with Forward, he spoke about the reason why he famously never loses sight of Springsteen during a concert. "I call it the 'pride before the fall' episode," he said. "On Aug. 16, 1975, we were playing a club in Greenwich Village that is not there any longer, called the Bottom Line. In those days, we played two shows a night. ... Between shows I was scouting the club for a potential close, impersonal relationship. I found a smoking-hot girl. I started playing to the girl. She was picking up the beat. Bruce was ready to stop but I was the only one that missed the signal to stop. He finally stopped me by taking the drumsticks out of my hand and then pretending to choke me. Needless to say, he was not in a good mood."
Later in the show, Springsteen let everybody know that he still hadn't forgotten about the gaffe. "Bruce had given everyone in the band nicknames," Weinberg continued. "Mine was Mighty Max. When he introduced the band during 'Rosalita,' ... he introduced me as the Not So Mighty Max. After the show, I knocked on his dressing room door to apologize, feeling like a third grader called to the principal. I have never taken my eyes off [him] since. You never know what Bruce will do onstage."
Fortunately for Weinberg, who had been in the E Street Band for slightly less than a year at this point, his mistake was only noticed by the 400 people in attendance that night. According to Brucebase, there is no known audio of the later show, although one exists for the first. Had the screw-up occurred during the early concert on the previous night, however, he'd be considerably more embarrassed. It was broadcast live over New York's WNEW-FM and is one of Springsteen's most important concerts and regularly traded in bootleg circles.
Bruce Springsteen Albums Ranked Worst to Best