“He’s known as the American working man but he’s never worked a day in his life.” Paul McCartney delivers an amusing, warm-hearted tribute to Bruce Springsteen at Ivor Novello Awards

McCartney and Springsteen
(Image credit: Harry Durrant/Getty Images)

Bruce Springsteen was inducted into the Fellowship of the Ivors Academy at the prestigious Ivor Novello Awards in London last night, May 23, and received a warm-hearted, tongue-in-cheek, tribute from his good friend Paul McCartney ahead of receiving the award.

Springsteen became the first ever international songwriter that the Academy has inducted into Fellowship in its 80-year history, recognising his outstanding contribution to the craft of songwriting and impact on the UK’s cultural landscape.

McCartney told the audience at the ceremony at London's Grosvenor House hotel that he “couldn't think of a more fitting recipient”, before jokingly adding, “except maybe Bob Dylan. Or Paul Simon, or Billy Joel, or Beyoncé, or Taylor Swift... The list goes on.”

Continuing his teasing tribute, the former Beatle added, “He’s known as the American working man but he admits he’s never worked a day in his life.”

Musing upon how Springsteen might have fitted into The Beatles, McCartney concluded, “When it comes to talent, he’d definitely be in the top five.“

In a more sincere moment, McCartney hailed his longtime friend as “a lovely boy.“

Somewhat hoarse after a three-hour show in Sunderland on the previous evening, Springsteen stated that performing for his fans “remains one of the greatest privileges and honours of my life as a musician.”

“I want to thank you for taking my music into your hearts and into your souls,” he added. “I want to thank you for including me in the challenging and beautiful cultural life in the UK.”

Reminiscing about his very first visit to the UK in 1975, he recalled: “The aeroplane food was not so great, and my first thought when we landed at Heathrow was, Where’s all the cheeseburgers? The cheeseburgers had either been hidden or replaced by something called fish and chips. I knew what a fish was, but I didn’t know what a chip was. It was a little disconcerting.

“Our next stop was the Hammersmith Odeon, where I was greeted by a huge sign announcing: ‘London is finally ready for Bruce Springsteen’. And all I thought was, If London isn’t ready for a cheeseburger, they may not be ready for me.

“...I guess London is finally ready for cheeseburgers.”

Springsteen also performed an acoustic version of Thunder Road for the assembled music industry guests, which you can watch below:

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.