Bruce Springsteen’s kindergarten report probably read “plays well with others”, if this selection of on-stage shenanigans is any indicator...
Shortly before his chart-topping success with The Traveling Wilburys, Roy Orbison first hit the comeback special with a cable TV special filmed at the Coconut Grove, Los Angeles, in 1987. His all-star backing band included Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Jackson Browne, and a certain Mr Springsteen.
Bruce and the E Street band took to the road for six weeks in 1988 on Amnesty International’s awareness-raising Human Rights Now! world tour, along with Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman, Youssou N’Dour and more. The acts often guested in each other’s sets; here’s Springsteen and Sting swapping mics.
The 2003 Grammy Awards featured an on-stage tribute to Joe Strummer, just months after The Clash figurehead’s death, the impressive front line of Steve Van Zandt, Dave Grohl, Springsteen and Elvis Costello trading lines on a rousing version of London Calling. Bruce has since doffed his cap to Joe by opening his 2009 Glastonbury set with Coma Girl.
Bruce and Arcade Fire began their mutual appreciation society in 2007, when The Boss joined the Canadians on stage in Ottawa. They jammed on the band’s Keep The Car Rolling, followed by this beefed-up rendition of one of the most celebrated tracks from Springsteen’s low-key acoustic Nebraska album.
Among several collaborations at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame’s 25th anniversary concert at Madison Square Garden in 2003, U2 performed a Springsteen classic with help from the man himself and Patti Smith, whose recording of the song gave Bruce his first taste of UK singles chart success.
Massachusetts’ Dropkick Murphys have been described as a hybrid of the spirit of punk, the Celtic passion of The Pogues and the rock grandeur of Springsteen. There was little chance, then, that Bruce would pass up an opportunity to help the band celebrate St Patrick’s Day in Boston in 2011
Who would dare pull the plug on The Boss and a Beatle? Well, it’s precisely what promoters of Springsteen’s Hard Rock Calling show in London’s Hyde Park did in 2012, shortly after Paul McCartney became an honorary member of the E Street Band. Live curfew looming, the ensemble just managed to get through two Fabs classics.
Springsteen has frequently cited Creedence Clearwater Revival as a major influence on his own music, so jams were inevitable when CCR frontman John Fogerty filled the support slot on several dates during Bruce’s 2012 tour. Here they are ripping it up on one of Fogerty’s own blue collar anthems.
One of the most recent Springsteen sightings was when he joined The Rolling Stones on stage at the Rock In Rio event in May of this year. It was actually a return engagement, Bruce having first saddled up with the Stones when they played his New Jersey neighbourhood in 2012.
New Jersey’s Republican governor Chris Christie created traffic chaos in 2013 by closing highway toll booths, as part of a bigger political spat with the Democrats. Comedian and talk show host Jimmy Fallon dressed up as Bruce to satirise incident, with a little help from the man himself.
Bruce Springsteen is pictured onstage with the Rolling Stones in Classic Rock 199, available as digital or print editions from MyFavouriteMagazines.