Terry O’Neill, Bruce Springsteen on Sunset Boulevard, 1975 20×24 Silver gelatin print
We couldn’t let September 23, 2014 pass without honoring the 65th birthday of New Jersey’s own Bruce Springsteen. Bergen County Camera and Gallery 270 owner, Tom Gramegna, recently discussed his history with Bruce, his love of Bruce’s music, and a little know story of Bruce’s visit to Bergen County Camera.
“It’s relevant here at Bergen County Camera and Gallery 270, because we all have a favorite Bruce photo among the countless pictures made by photographers both known and unknown throughout his career. We posted this delightful Terry O’Neill image back when he visited us for the opening of our show “It Was Fifty Years Ago Today…”, earlier in 2014. Terry commented about the prominent placement of his 1975 Springsteen photograph in our Gallery window. When I reminded him that he was in New Jersey and further predicted that it would be the most popular photograph in the show, he fondly recounted the story behind the photograph. Terry was in Los Angeles for another photo shoot and while on a break went out to purchase a copy of the newly released Born To Run album. He was walking down Sunset Boulevard, album in hand, when he noticed Bruce himself walking the same sidewalk. Bruce was there to check out the newly installed billboard ( his first) advertising the “Born To Run” album. Terry took some candid shots first and then asked Bruce to pose on the street in front of his first billboard. Yet another great moment in history captured by the photographically ubiquitous Terry O’ Neill.
Bruce is also an avid photographer himself (more about that later). Frank Stefanko, photographed and became friends with Bruce while shooting for the album “Darkness on the Edge Of Town” has said that Bruce’s personal photographs could be considered among the best bodies of photography that will never be seen in public.
Many of you know that I have been a long time Bruce fan and have seen him perform hundreds of times. My personal history with Bruce Springsteen begins at my sophomore year attending Seton Hall University. One of my high school buddies who also attended SHU told me that I needed to see Bruce and his E Street Band who were playing for $1.50 at our student center. Having already seen Bruce previously perform, he promised that “seeing this guy will change your life”! Though I doubted his words at first, he could not have been more correct! From that day to the present, over forty years later, I continue to be amazed by the transformative power his music has always had for me and many others.
Since so much time has passed since 1982, I hope Bruce forgives me for recounting this momentous Bergen County Camera story, never before published, on the occasion of his big birthday 32 years later! Enthusiastically recommended by loyal BCC clients, Bruce came to purchase an SLR camera before he set out on his cross country journey that would become the inspiration for the album Nebraska. My “dear” brother Bob helped him chose an entry level Konica 35MM SLR camera that he deemed as perfect for the novice photographer which is how Bruce described himself. One might think that my “dear” brother who knew I was working out around the corner (at Westwood Racquetball and Nautilus), would have called his Springsteen fanatic brother to allow me to share in the momentous visit to our store by my musical hero. But Bruce came to my store and left without me getting the opportunity to meet him and revel in our great luck. I returned to “you’ll never guess who came in and purchased a camera…”. He instructed me to go to my desk and look at the Amex charge slip that he placed on my desk. Incredulous that he would not have called me from around the corner to meet my hero, I told him he was fired. Of course, I got over it and chalked it up to fate. To this day, I have attended concerts, events and fundraisers that promised to find me in places where the I’d have the opportunity to meet the man I have followed since February 11, 1973 and thank him for the countless hours of joy his music has provided me. Even now, over forty years later, I’m philosophical enough to again leave this to the fates, while still working on a dream.” – Tom Gramegna, Bergen County Camera and Gallery 270 Owner
We invite you to view our current show at Bergen County Camera featuring photos of Bruce Springsteen by Debra Rothenberg. Her new book, “Bruce Springsteen In Focus, 1980-2012″ is an incredible experience for any Bruce Springsteen fan. The book, as well several of Debra’s prints, are now on sale at Bergen County Camera.