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Today in Rock: Bruce Springsteen Lands an Audition with Columbia Records

Thursday, May 3: 12 p.m.
Bruce Springsteen's big break came in 1972

By the time Bruce Springsteen walked into CBS Studios in New York in May of 1972 to audition for Columbia Records, he’d been playing in rock and roll bands for seven years – from the garage rock/soul hybrid of the Castiles to the thundering guitar jams of Steel Mill to the soul music of the Bruce Springsteen Band. Steel Mill built up a following along the East Coast and even recorded a few demos for Bill Graham in February of 1970. But Springsteen had no experience with record companies or serious recording studios. He was also at a crossroads in his career. Although he’d had local success, he was unsure of his future direction. He signed a management contract as a solo artist with Mike Appel, who encouraged him to develop his songwriting, in hopes of possibly having Springsteen emerge in the popular singer-songwriter mold.

Appel managed to get an audition for Springsteen with the legendary John Hammond – a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee. Hammond had been at the center of popular music since 1938, when he organized the From Spirituals to Swing concerts at Carnegie Hall. He signed some of the most important artists of ...

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