Posts Tagged ‘Drummer’


Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

Bespectacled percussionist Max Weinberg answered New Jersey singer/songwriter Bruce Springsteen’s 1974 “Village Voice” classified, looking for a new drummer. But “no junior Ginger Bakers.” Auditioning, Max Weinberg did well enough on the lone Springsteen tune he knew, “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” off “The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle” LP, and a Fats Domino cover, to get the job. Six credits shy of graduating from Seton Hall University, Max Weinberg quit school to accept the $110-a-week Springsteen gig.

“No junior Ginger Bakers.”

So read the now-famous Village Voice ad that Bruce Springsteen placed in late summer 1974, seeking a replacement for departed E Street Band drummer Ernest “Boom” Carter. As the ad made clear, Springsteen sought someone who could play with power and economy rather than showy style — and he found what he was looking for in Max Weinberg, who earned his spot after an August audition that ended with a new $110-a-week gig for the young drummer, starting a new chapter in rock ‘n’ roll history in the bargain.

Bruce Springsteen was already a recording artist, with a Columbia Records contract and a pair of albums ‘Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.’ and ‘The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle,’ both released in 1973 under his belt, and the band had already started tracking what would eventually become 1975′s classic ‘Born to Run’ LP; in fact, as one of his last acts as a member of the E Street Band, Carter tracked drums for the title cut. But if he wasn’t a founding member, Max Weinberg quickly became such a fixture in the lineup that, to many fans, he may as well have been there from the beginning.

“The ad in the Village Voice caught my eye because it said that the band had a Columbia Records contract. That was more than I had,” he laughed in a 2012 interview with the Jewish Daily Forward. “To get to the audition, I had to climb up four long flights of steps with my drum. After I arrived tired and sweaty, Springsteen greeted me: ‘How are you doing? Let’s play.’ I knew halfway through the audition that we clicked.”

Max Weinberg held the chair throughout Springsteen and the E Street Band’s glory years, anchoring the Boss’ sound on a string of best selling LPs that included the bulk of ‘Born to Run’ and stretched from 1978′s ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ through 1987′s ‘Tunnel of Love.’ Although not every recording during that period utilized the band on a consistent basis — 1982′s ‘Nebraska’ was a solo effort in the true sense of the term, and ‘Tunnel’ found Springsteen using E Streeters on a piecemeal basis to augment his solo tracks — it still came as a shock when he disbanded the group in 1989, beginning a period in which he’d enlist session ringers (as he did for 1992′s ‘Human Touch’ and ‘Lucky Town’) or strip his sound down to bare essentials (1995′s ‘The Ghost of Tom Joad’).

They found their way back together in 1995, recording new songs for a best-of compilation, followed by the full-fledged 1999 reunion that presaged 2002′s well-received ‘The Rising’ LP. In the interim, Weinberg spent some time wandering between unsatisfying career choices, briefly contemplating law school and running a label before working his way back behind the kit — and despite his pedigree, he resumed his music career slowly, taking odd low-paying gigs like playing bar mitzvahs and working as an understudy on the ‘Tommy’ Broadway show.

Eventually, Max Weinberg found a new starring role as the bandleader for the Max Weinberg 7, the musical combo relied upon by Conan O’Brien for accompaniment of all kinds during his 16-year run as the host of NBC’s ‘Late Night’ program, as well as his brief stint as host of ‘The Tonight Show.’ When original sidekick Andy Richter departed ‘Late Night’ in 2000, Weinberg assumed his role in a sense, taking on more responsibility and contributing to more comedy sketches, but drumming remained his first love, and when O’Brien started the ‘Conan’ show for the TBS network in 2010, he didn’t follow, choosing instead to focus on the E Street Band and his 15-piece Max Weinberg Big Band.

Although there don’t seem to be any recordings of Mighty Max Weinberg’s first show with Bruce Springsteen at the E Street Band, which took place Sept. 19, 1974, at the Main Point in Bryn Mawr, Pa., we’ve included at the top what’s been billed as “the earliest known recording” of the band with Weinberg and his fellow new addition, keyboard player Roy Bittan, taped at Kean College in Union, N.J. on Sept. 22 that year.