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Bruce Springsteen’s memoir, Born to Run, came out in the fall of 2016. In addition to diving into the backstory of some of Springsteen’s most famous music moments, it tells the tale of how The Boss came to be. Just after the memoir made its debut, the singer was interviewed by NPR, where he dove in deeper to some of the stories presented in the book. One memory Springsteen elaborated on was the nearly fatal motorcycle accident he was in as a teenager.

Bruce Springsteen performing on stage.
Bruce Springsteen, 1988 | Dave Hogan/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Bruce Springsteen’s radical long hair

In Born to Run, Springsteen writes of being a teenager in 1967. He and his father don’t have the best relationship, and he’s grown out his hair, to his dad’s disgust.

“It was unusual,” he told Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross of his hair. It was meant to make “a statement.”

Bruce Springsteen got into a motorcycle accident that almost killed him

Around that time, Springsteen was in a motorcycle accident that threw him about 20 feet.

“I was lucky I survived the motorcycle accident, because the bike went under the car,” he said. “I flew out about 20 or 25 feet, I didn’t have a helmet on, I hit my head on the pavement and knocked myself out, gave myself a brain concussion, screwed up my left leg. And I was lucky then that I didn’t get killed, because I didn’t have any protective clothing on whatsoever. And I took a pretty good beating.”

So Springsteen went to the hospital and when he got home, his father took advantage of the situation and called a barber to give his son a haircut.

“Such was the nature of the day when the barber was called in and Samson’s locks were trimmed,” he said, adding: “It’s funny now. I didn’t think it was funny then.”

Young Springsteen was “furious” at the time. But, now, “what can you say — it’s water under the bridge.”

‘He loved me but he couldn’t stand me.’

Springsteen had a complicated relationship with his father. In his book, he writes:

“He loved me but he couldn’t stand me. He felt we competed for my mother’s affections. We did. He also saw in me too much of his real self. Inside, however, beyond his rage, he harbored a gentleness, timidity, shyness and a dreamy insecurity. These were things I wore on the outside and the reflection of these qualities in his boy repelled him. I was ‘soft’ and he hated ‘soft.’ Of course, he’d been brought up ‘soft.’ A mama’s boy just like me.”


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How Springsteen grew up is vastly different from his stage persona. He was “very shy,” he said, as a boy. And it made his father uncomfortable.

“I was a pretty sensitive kid and quite neurotic, filled with a lot of anxiety, which all would have been very familiar to my pop, you know?” he explained. “Except it was a part of himself he was trying to reject, so I got caught in the middle of it, I think.”