It was 50 years ago today (June 9th, 1972) that Bruce Springsteen was signed to Columbia Records by record producer John Hammond.
Over the course of his career, both as a talent scout and producer, Hammond played an integral role in discovering and shepherding the careers of such icons as Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Big Joe Turner, Pete Seeger, George Benson, Mike Bloomfield, Leonard Cohen, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, among many others.
Springsteen had only recently scaled his act down to being a solo acoustic performer, having made his bones in and around New Jersey’s shore circuit leading such bands as Child, Steel Mill, the Bruce Springsteen Band, and Dr. Zoom & The Sonic Boom.
In 1998 Springsteen recalled to BBC TV how original manager Mike Appel secured an audition on May 2nd, 1972, purely through the gift of gab: “He just talked his way into an audition with John Hammond. I remember I came up on the bus with my acoustic guitar with no case. I was embarrassed carrying it around New (laughs) York City, like, y’know, at my side. . . And we had the audition, and I played a couple of songs and he said, ‘You gotta be on Columbia Records.'”
In March 1999, during his acceptance speech at his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, “The Boss” took time out to thank the past and current staff at Columbia Records for their faith and support over the decades: “They created a conduit for a lifetime of thoughts and ideas. A place where I was a. . . I felt safe and supported and encouraged to do my best and my truest work. I’ve heard enough record company horror stories, right from this stage, to realize — to appreciate the fact that I don’t have one.”
Bruce Springsteen, who has only ever recorded for Columbia Records, released his debut album, Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J., on January 5th, 1973.
In December 2021, Bruce Springsteen sold his publishing and recorded works to Sony for a reported $550 million. Rolling Stone reported, “A rep for Sony declined to comment on the deal. Springsteen has remained with Sony’s Columbia Records since he launched his career, and was given ownership of his earlier albums. According the RIAA, his album catalog has sold 65.5 million in the U.S., which includes his 15-times platinum Born In The U.S.A. and five-times platinum The River.
In Sony’s official announcement regarding the deal, Springsteen was quoted as saying: “I am one artist who can truly say that when I signed with Columbia Records in 1972, I came to the right place. During the last 50 years, the men and women of Sony Music have treated me with the greatest respect as an artist and as a person. I’m thrilled that my legacy will continue to be cared for by the company and people I know and trust.”