Behind the Band Name: the E Street Band

When Bruce Springsteen signed his record deal, he did so as a solo artist. While The Boss’ songwriting efforts are what first garnered attention, he quickly started to become known for his grandiose live shows. A large part of what earned him that reputation was the musicians backing him up on stage: the E Street Band.

Videos by American Songwriter

Formed in 1972, the E Street Band has gone on to become just as iconic in rock ‘n’ roll as Springsteen himself. From their storied touring history with Springsteen to their own solo efforts, the group has flown well past the normal parameters for a backing band. Revisit the story of how the E Street Band came to be, below.

Behind the Band Name

Springsteen has put together several backing bands throughout his career but, none are more recognizable to fans than the E Street Band.

The group – now consisting of Garry Tallent, Roy Bittan, Max Weinberg, Steven Van Zandt, Nils Lofgren, Patti Scialfa, Soozie Tyrell, Charles Giordano, and Jake Clemons – was formed in 1972, but did not receive a formal name until 1974.

The pervasive story of how the E Street Band got their name comes from former member Clarence Clemons’ book Big Man: Real Life & Tall Tales (per Asbury Press). He recalled the band rehearsing at another former member’s house, David Sancious, in their early touring days with Springsteen.

According to Clemons, Sancious lived on “E Street” in Belmar, New Jersey, and was known for being tardy. The band would wait for long periods of time out on the streets for him to come out and thus became known as E Street Band.

Like anything time-worn, there are discrepancies from the band as to how they got their name. Springsteen doesn’t recall Sancious being “particularly tardy” but does credit him as an important influence on the group’s formation.

“My recollection is we were on the bus one night trying to come up with a band name,” Springsteen once said. “E Street Band seemed pretty easy — it just had a nice ring to it. I don’t remember David being particularly tardy. … David was a big, important part of the band at the time and it just came up.”

Sancious also spoke with Asbury Press about the band name. “We did rehearse there a few times, but not as much as the myth that’s built up around it,” he said. “Bruce liked the sound of it. I’ve always personally considered a real honor that he called it the E Street Band. I’m proud of the association.”

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

The E Street Band received their own induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, separate from Springsteen, in 2014. Not surprisingly, Springsteen did the honors himself, ushering his band into their rightful spot alongside him in the Rock Hall.

After listing out what made every member of the E Street Band so integral to their collective success, Springsteen turned his attention to the two members of the original line-up that have since passed: Clemons and Danny Federici.

 “I have one regret, and that’s that Danny and Clarence aren’t here with us tonight,” Springsteen said during the induction speech. “16 years ago before my own induction, Steven Van Zandt sat with me and my kitchen and asked me to petition the Rock Hall for us to be inducted together.

“I listened, and the Hall of Fame had its rules, and I was proud of my independence, we hadn’t played together in ten years, we were somewhat estranged, we were taking the first small steps of performing and we didn’t know what the future would bring, and perhaps the shadow of the old grudges still held some sway,” he continued. “It was the conundrum, because we’d never been quite fish nor fowl and Steve was quiet, persistent, and at the end of our conversation, he said, ‘Yeah, but Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, that’s the legend.'”

(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Leave a Reply

Mark Sheehan, Guitarist for The Script, Dead at 46

Meaning Behind the Mythical Led Zeppelin Hit, “Immigrant Song”