Bruce Springsteen last night inducted the E Street Band into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and told them: "Let's keep rolling for as many lives as they give us."
And he revealed how he rejected pressure to have the band included as part of his own induction in 1999.
In the longest part of the annual ceremony, the Boss went through the history of each musician – and said his only regret was that late members Dan Federici and Clarence Clemons couldn’t be there.
Springsteen said: “In the beginning there was Mad Dog Vini Lopez, standing in front of me, fresh out of jail, his head shaved, in the Mermaid Room of the Upstage Club in Asbury Park. He told me he had a money-making outfit called Speed Limit 25 – they were looking for a guitarist, and was I interested? I was broke. So the genesis point of the E Street Band was actually a group that Vini asked me to join to make a few extra dollars on the weekend.”
He recalled recruiting bassist Garry Tallent: “We first saw Garry along with Southside Johnny, when they dragged two chairs onto an empty dance floor as I plugged my guitar into the upstage wall of sound. I was the new kid in a new town and these were the guys who owned the place.
“They sat back and looked at me like, ‘Come on, come on, punk. Bring it – let’s see what you got.’ I reached back and I burnt their house down.”
He called Stevie Van Zandt “my consigliere, my dependable devil’s advocate whenever I need one, the invaluable ears for everything that I create.” He went on: He’s my comic foil onstage, my fellow producer-arranger, and my blood, blood, blood, blood, blood brother.” He also thanked Nils Lofgren for having “given me everything he’s had for the past 30 years.”
He even made mention of drummer Ernie ‘Boom’ Carter, who only appeared on Born To Run, saying: “He picked a good one – here’s to you!”
The Boss, who entered the Hall Of Fame in 1999, recalled how Van Zandt had suggested he should fight for the E Street Band to be included in that honour. But he said: “I was proud of my independence. We hadn’t played together in 10 years; we were somewhat estranged; we were just taking the first small steps over reforming. We didn’t know what the future would bring. And perhaps the shadows of some of the old grudges held some sway.
“Steve was quiet but persistent. At the end of our conversation,he just said, ‘Yeah, I understand. But Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band – that’s the legend.’
“So I’m proud to induct, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the heart-stopping, pants-dropping, hard-rocking, booty-shaking, love-making, earth-quaking, Viagra-taking, justifying, death-defying, legendary E Street Band.”
They were inducted in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn alongside Kiss, Nirvana, Linda Ronstadt, Cat Stevens and Hall and Oates.