Bruce Springsteen at 70: 13 surprising facts about ‘The Boss’

How did he get his nickname? How long did his longest gig last? What was his dad's job?

Bruce Springsteen is 70 years old today. To mark the occasion, here are 13 facts about The Boss:

1. Despite being one of the most well-recognised and biggest-selling artists, Springsteen has never had a Number One single in America or the UK.

2. Springsteen campaigned for Barack Obama during the 2008 US presidential campaign, and when the singer was presented with a Kennedy Center award in 2009, Obama said: "I'm the President...but he's the boss."

3. He had a planet named after him in 1999. The Boss claimed his spot in the heavens after a minor planet – now called (23990) Springsteen – was spotted by astronomers in Auckland, New Zealand. Springsteen's music had entertained the observers on the night of September 4th.


4. He originally wrote the song Hungry Heart for The Ramones, but decided to keep it on the advice of his producer and manager, Jon Landau.

5. There are about 60 Springsteen tribute acts currently working in the US and Europe, including Tramps Like Us, The Rising and The B Street Band.

6. When Bruce tells us that "they blew up the Chicken Man in Philly last night" in Atlantic City, he's referring to Phil Testa, the don of a Philadelphia crime family who got his nickname from his involvement in a poultry business. Testa was killed when a nail bomb under his porch detonated as he walked out the front door.

7. Springsteen's father, Douglas Frederick Springsteen, was of Dutch and Irish ancestry and worked as a bus driver. His mother, Adele Ann, was of Italian ancestry and worked as a legal secretary.

8. He got his nickname "The Boss" while playing with a band called Earth in the late 1960s when he was tasked with collecting the band's fee from club owners and distributing it among the band afterwards.

9. Jessica Springsteen, his daughter with Patti Scialfa, is a champion show jumper who has represented the US in the Show Jumping World Cup. She was part of the US team that clinched the Aga Khan trophy at Dublin Horse Show in 2014.

10. He played his longest ever concert in Helsinki, Finland, in 2012, with the performance clocking in at four hours and six minutes long.

11. Springsteen made history in October 1975 by becoming the first rock star to feature on the cover of Time and Newsweek in the same week.

12. When The Boss dissolved the E Street Band in 1989, he gave each member $2 million in severance pay.

13. He won a best song Oscar in 1994 for Streets of Philadelphia, from the film Philadelphia. He's also won a Golden Globe in 2009 for The Wrestler, from the film of the same name.

Niamh Towey

Niamh Towey

Niamh Towey is an Irish Times journalist