It’s hard to believe that I took the photo above 33 years ago today with my Kodak Disc Camera, but indeed that’s how long it’s been since that long, hot summer night in 1985. My first concert was Prince & The Revolution at The Philadelphia Spectrum on November 24, 1984. I’ll remember that night forever, as it ignited the spark for what became my voracious appetite for concerts. It was also what I consider to be my funk & roll baptism. But my second concert, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia on August 15, 1985 holds an equally special place in my heart. It was my rock & roll baptism.
Prince and Bruce Springsteen remain my all-time favorite musical heroes. It’s quite fitting that they wound up being my first and second concerts, respectively, as they are the two artists that I have seen in concert more times than any other musicians. On that “Hot August Night” (I feel obligated to credit Neil Diamond any time I borrow that phrase) in 1985, Bruce and the band made my 14-year-old self a true believer in the life-affirming power of rock & roll. For me, it was a game-changing moment, a musical and spiritual awakening, proof that there was a magic in this world the likes of which I had never experienced before. I’m sure that I felt the same way watching Bruce that he felt when he witnessed his hero, Elvis Presley, perform on The Sullivan Show. Thanks to my Uncle Joe and Aunt Kathy, who took me to the concert, I witnessed many firsts that night: My first Bruce Springsteen guitar solo, my first Clarence Clemons sax solo, my first Roy Bittan piano solo, my first Danny Federici organ solo, my first time feeling the rumble of Max Weinberg’s drums and Garry Tallent’s bass in my chest, my first “Thunder Road,” my first “Born To Run,” and many other moments that I would go on to relive many more times at Bruce shows through the years. But most importantly, this night is eternally engraved in my memory as simply my very first Bruce show. You never forget your first.