Bruce Springsteen wasn’t always a music legend. His first two albums didn’t dent the Billboard 200 until a month before the August 1975 release of his third, star-making album, Born to Run. Springsteen was a dozen years into his recording career before he won his first Grammy, for “Dancing in the Dark.”
The Boss has since made up for that slow-ish start. He has (at least) 18 reasons to celebrate as he turns 70 today (Sept. 23).
11 No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200. In the chart’s 63-year history, only two artists have had more No. 1 albums. The Beatles lead with 19. Jay-Z has had 14. Barbra Streisand is tied with Springsteen with 11.
One of the longest-running No. 1 live albums in history. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band Live/1975-85, a five-disk opus that was released in 1986, logged seven weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. That’s the third-longest run at No. 1 for a live music album in the chart’s history. It’s topped by Judy Garland‘s Judy at Carnegie Hall (13 weeks in 1961) and Peter Frampton‘s Frampton Comes Alive! (10 weeks in 1976). (Fittingly, Garland and Springsteen are two of the most legendary live performers in history.)
1 No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 (as a songwriter). Springsteen wrote “Blinded by the Light,” which Manfred Mann‘s Earth Band took to No. 1 in February 1977. The song first appeared on Springsteen’s 1973 debut album, Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.
12 top 10 hits on the Hot 100 (as an artist). The biggest was “Dancing in the Dark,” which logged four weeks at No. 2 in 1984 — three of them behind another classic, Prince‘s “When Doves Cry.” (In the first of the four weeks, it was behind Duran Duran‘s “The Reflex.”)
7 top 10 hits from one album. Born in the U.S.A. was only the second album to spawn seven top 10 hits on the Hot 100. The first was Michael Jackson‘s Thriller. In all the years since, just two other albums — Janet Jackson‘s Rhythm Nation 1814 and Drake‘s Scorpion — have equaled this feat.
26 Hot 100 hits. What’s most impressive is that Springsteen wrote 25 of these songs by himself, not with a collaborator, much less by committee (the current favored method). His only outside song was a blistering version of Edwin Starr‘s 1970 smash “War,” from the live album with the E Street Band. It made the top 10.
20 Grammys. Among rock artists, only U2 has won as many. (The Irish band has won 22.) Springsteen’s wins include a record four awards for best rock song.
50 Grammy nominations. Including three noms for record of the year, three for song of the year and two for album of the year.
2 albums in the Grammy Hall of Fame. Born to Run was inducted in 2003. Born in the U.S.A. made it in 2012.
1 album in the National Recording Registry. Born to Run was inducted in 2003.
1 Oscar. Springsteen won for writing the haunting “Streets of Philadelphia” for Jonathan Demme’s Philadelphia (1993). He was nominated again two years later for writing the title song for Tim Robbins‘ Dead Man Walking.
Special Tony. Springsteen received a special Tony in 2018 for Springsteen on Broadway. Springsteen wrote, directed and starred in the show, which ran for 229 performances at the Walter Kerr Theater.
Three Emmy noms. Springsteen has been nominated for Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band (HBO, 2001), the band’s Super Bowl halftime show (NBC, 2009) and Springsteen on Broadway (Netflix, 2019).
Presidential Medal of Freedom. Barack Obama presented the honor in 2016.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Bono inducted him in 1999.
4 Top 10 hits on the Official U.K. Singles Chart. “Streets of Philadelphia” is his biggest hit in the U.K. It peaked at No. 2 in April 1994, blocked from the top spot by Doop‘s “Doop,” the only big hit by the Dutch Eurodance group. Which means Springsteen has risen no higher than No. 2 in both the U.S. and the U.K. This gives him something to shoot for!