Bruce Springsteen Asked Steven Van Zandt for Permission to Play Telecaster

By Andrew Magnotta

December 18, 2017

In the late-'60s to early-'70s, when Bruce Springsteen and "Little" Steven Van Zandt were active in separate bands in the Asbury Park, NJ, area, the type of instrument a musician played was his or her defining characteristic.

In a thriving scene in which most musicians had only one instrument to their name, "you were your guitar," Van Zandt tells Marc Maron on a recent episode of the WTF podcast.  

Van Zandt and Springsteen became friends from playing around New Jersey and from frequenting clubs in New York City's Greenwich Village on the weekends. Van Zandt was known in Jersey for playing a Fender Telecaster and, one day, Springsteen popped the question.

"At some point, he came to me, he says, 'You know, I'm thinking about switching. Can I switch to the Telecaster?'" Van Zandt recalls. "He asked my permission.

"You were your guitar in those days. So I was the Tele guy, you know? So he asked my permission to become a Tele guy. So I said, 'All right, all right, I'll switch to something else. I'll switch to a Stratocaster.'"

Because they were friends, Van Zandt agreed to switch presumably so as to avoid any confusion around the neighborhood.

"Everybody had their guitar, their sound, their thing, you know?" he explained.

For his part, Springsteen has stuck with a Telecaster ever since when he plays electric, leaving Van Zandt free to play whatever guitar he wants...as long as it's not a Tele.

Check out the full interview below.

Steven Van Zandt recently put out a new album, Soul Fire, with his band, the Disciples of Soul. You can get all the upcoming tour dates here


Photo: Getty Images

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