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Face to Face With the Future - Looking Back (and Forward) on the Landau/Springsteen Friendship @50


"Two proud pioneers" (as per the bumper-sticker on the door...) Jon Landau and Bruce Springsteen @ Widener College (now Widener University) back in February of 1975 - photo by the late, great Phil Ceccola, courtesy of Russ Ceccola; used with permission

April 10, 2024


Fifty years ago tonight, Jon Landau first met Bruce Springsteen, on the same evening that Landau also saw Springsteen in concert for the first time, at the long-gone Charlie’s Place in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Just under a month later, Landau would see his second Springsteen concert on the night of May 9, 1974, when Bruce and his band opened for Bonnie Raitt at Cambridge's Harvard Square Theatre, also long gone. After the May 9 show, Landau went home and wrote “Growing Young With Rock and Roll,” his essay-as-concert-review for the long-defunct Boston-area alternative weekly newspaper The Real Paper that contained the now-famous sentence, “I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen.”

 

Landau and Springsteen quickly connected, becoming fast friends, and eventually Landau also would become a longtime key production collaborator from the Born To Run album onward, as well as Springsteen’s manager, a position he retains to this day. Their friendship-combined-with-music-business-partnership is among the most unique and longest-lasting ones in popular music, and that’s counting not just artist-manager partnerships, but all music-based partnerships in general, such as the similarly long-standing one between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.


It's also a partnership that has expanded and done much to fulfill the promise and potential of "rock and roll future" from five decades ago, not just resetting the bar for multiple generations of what could be achieved by a musician in the studios and on the stages, but also by redefining what successful management of a musical career looks like. Through the past five decades, the partnership between Springsteen and the Jon Landau Management team has produced one of the longest runs ever of great artistic achievements combined with immense commercial successes.


And obviously "Team Springsteen" isn't quite finished just yet, either. Here's to all of the high points of the past, the present, and those that still lie ahead for this artist, his various collaborators, and his international, multi-generational audience, in our collective rock and roll futures.

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