How do you get lost in one of rock’s most famous bands?
But don’t look now, because Lofgren could be the band’s most versatile and talented member, with credits that also include extensive time with Neil Young’s Crazy Horse, a tenure in Ringo Starr’s All-Star Band, and more than three dozen solo albums to his credit.
Born in Chicago, Lofgren was just 18 when he joined Crazy Horse, playing guitar and piano and adding vocals to the band’s first album. He went on to tour with Young and appeared on several of his classic albums.
In 1971 he formed Grin, a band that recorded four albums through 1974 and came to include Lofgren’s brother, Tom, as a rhythm guitar player.
With Grin’s demise, Lofgren set out on a solo career, releasing his first album, Nils Lofgren, in 1975. He would continue to put out solo releases at a feverish pace over the years that followed, including his latest. The Loner: Nils Sings Neil, in 2008.
In 1984, Lofgren landed his biggest gig since Crazy Horse, joining Springsteen’s E Street Band when Van Zandt walked away to pursue other projects. Springsteen, who had befriended Lofgren, now reached out to him.
“We jammed for a couple of days,” Lofgren told Fender guitars in an online interview. “And out of respect for Bruce, whom I love and admire, I didn’t want to be there if I wasn’t the right guy. If I was the right guy, I wanted to know, and we went at it pretty hard for two days, and to make another long cool story short, he asked me to join the band. Which was a gift.”
Springsteen broke up the E Street band in 1989, recording on his own for much of the following decade. But when he reunited the group in 1999 he asked Lofgren and Van Zandt to both come on board — where they remain to this day.
Of course, Lofgren continues to do his own thing as well, having reunited with Young on a number of occasions, touring and recording as a solo artist, and even going on the road a few times with Ringo Starr’s All-Star Band.
But no matter where he pops up rest assured he’s earned his keep.
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(NOTE: This is part of my ongoing series of reports on guitar players who fly under the mainstream radar. Keep checking The Listening Room for future installments of guitar players you should know – JF)
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