It was 40 years ago today (August 25th, 1975) that many fans believe Bruce Springsteen released the single greatest rock album of the 1970s — if not in all of rock history; the legendary Born To Run.
The album — which was the first to feature then-rock critic Jon Landau behind the boards alongside Springsteen’s original manager, publisher, and producer Mike Appel— was recorded in fear that Columbia Records would drop Springsteen should the album not break the pattern of his two previous 1973 sets, Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. and The Wild, The Innocent, And The E Street Shuffle. Although both albums were darlings of the rock press, the albums — combined — had sold a paltry 90,000 copies upon initial release.
It was Appel who stirred up interest in the make-or-break third album by leaking copies of a rough mix of the “Born To Run” track to key to jockey’s in Philadelphia, New York City, Boston, Cleveland, and other loyal markets, which bought Springsteen time to work without Columbia breathing down his neck — and tightening the purse-strings — for the long-overdue followup.
The main sessions from Born To Run spanned March to July 1975 at New York City’s legendary Record Plant East. The title track was recorded in July 1974 at 914 Sound Studios in Blauvelt, New York.
Born To Run debuted on the Billboard album chart on September 13th, 1975 at Number 84, eventually peaked at Number Three, and went on to sell over six million copies.
Sensing the buzz brewing around the album, Columbia eventually poured a then-whopping $250,000 into promoting Born To Run, and Springsteen — much to his chagrin and Appel’s delight — ended up on the cover of both Time and Newsweek during the same week that fall.
The full tracklisting to Born To Run is:
Side One: “Thunder Road,” “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,” “Night,” and “Backstreets.”
Side Two: “Born To Run,” “She’s The One,” “Meeting Across The River,” and “Jungleland.”