history repeating

The Boss, the future, and the past

Bruce Springsteen at Harvard Square Theatre  on May 9, 1974.
Barry Schneier
Bruce Springsteen at Harvard Square Theatre on May 9, 1974.

Forty years ago this month Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played the Harvard Square Theatre, warming up the crowd for Bonnie Raitt.

It got warm.

It was the night that “Born to Run” made its live debut, and the show about which Real Paper rock critic Jon Landau proclaimed that he had seen “rock and roll future.” Springsteen and the band, of course, went on to fulfill that prophecy with a legendary career, and Landau, who signed on as Springsteen’s manager, helped guide it.


The future rolls on as Springsteen closes out his current tour with the E Street Band at Mohegan Sun Arena Sunday night.

Elise Amendola/associated press/file
Springsteenat at TD Garden March 26, 2012.
Get The Weekender in your inbox:
The Globe's top picks for what to see and do each weekend, in Boston and beyond.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Holliston-based photographer Barry Schneier had seen Bruce and the band play earlier at Charlie’s in Cambridge and remembers thinking “I’ve never seen anything like this.” Working as a photographer for the local promoters Windowpane Productions, Schneier put a bug in their ear to book Springsteen and the band. “I told them to put them on, because really I wanted to see them again,” says Schneier with a chuckle.

In this shot — which is currently on display at the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Okla., as part of a Springsteen photo exhibit — Springsteen sits alone on stage and performs “For You.” Schneier, who shot both sets as well as the sound check, has vivid memories of the night and capturing this particular image.

“About halfway through the second set — I had been photographing the whole show — I really just wanted to sit down and enjoy the rest of the show,” he says. Just as he sat at the side of the stage, the band members walked offstage and he was worried the show was over. “But then Bruce comes over and sits at the piano right in front of me and started playing ‘For You’ and I thought, Oh my God, I’m not going to miss this opportunity. So, I reloaded my camera and shot that moment.”

Schneier’s not sure if Springsteen ever found out that he suggested the promoters book the band but he does know Springsteen is aware of this particular photo, since Springsteen’s wife, Patti Scialfa, purchased a print for the Boss as a Christmas gift. “I was very touched by that,” he says, “but I don’t know if he knows it’s from that night.”


Although other pictures from the show — and Schneier’s photos of other musicians, including Raitt from that night as well as Patti Smith and Van Morrison — can be found on his website, Schneier says, “People have really gravitated to that image.”

Sarah Rodman can be reached at