Dave Edmunds Shares a Bruce Springsteen Story

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You know the old axiom that all celebrities know each other? Well, it seems logical, then, that at some point Celeb A had to actually meet Celeb B, right? Maybe it was at a party thrown by a Hollywood studio after a world premiere of a blockbuster hopeful. Maybe two A-Listers happen to be at the same impossible-for-you-and-me-to-get-into restaurant and their publicists arrange a quick hello. Or maybe two classic rock stars backstage at a concert. Such was the case when Dave Edmunds met Bruce Springsteen.

The comments in brackets are ours; the rest is Edmunds. Take it away, Dave…

It was the Fourth of July, 1981. [OK, we’re gonna give Dave a pass right off the bat. Springsteen played a six-night stand at Wembley that year from May 29 to June 5, so we’re going with June 4.] I wasn’t on the guest list or anything, but with my good friend Capital Radio DJ Roger Scott, we parked up at Wembley Stadium, London. Taking a deep breath, we surfed through the over-sold throng on Roger’s all access pass to witness Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band play their entire, exhilarating, three-hour-plus set to above expectations. [They played 27 songs with two sets and an encore.]

Shuffling our way towards the exits among the herds of thousands of exhausted Bruce-worshipers, I felt a firm grip on my shoulder: “Bruce wants to see you!” The firm grip belonged to a massive, heavily tattooed security guy with an intense New Jersey accent who was yelling into his CB radio, “I’VE FOUND HIM!”

I’d never met Bruce Springsteen before and had no idea of what he knew about me (except, perhaps, for my recording of “I Hear You Knocking” [Edmunds’ 1970 hit: #1 in the U.K.; #4 in the U.S.] and a few others). How had he known that I was at the gig? The security guy led me through the backstage area to Bruce’s dressing room, where he was sitting alone. Being careful not to blurt out, “Great show, man!” (you don’t do that), and before either of us could say anything, a noisy E Street Band stormed through making their way towards the hospitality area: “Hi Dave, love your records!” And, “Hi Dave, you’re terrific, man!” – and so on. And off they went.

We talked – about what I don’t recall. He asked me if I’d been recording lately and I said, “No” – “Got anything…?” He strapped on his Fender Esquire and explained, “This is like a Chuck Berry thing that tells a story without repeating any of the lyrics, like The Promised Land.” And he played “From Small Things Mama Good Things One Day Come” (not the snappiest of titles) – from beginning to end. It was perfect for me! “It’s yours, man!”

He hadn’t recorded the song but promised he’d lay down a rough cassette with just guitar and vocal – for me! “Gimme a couple of weeks…,” and I could pick it up at his manager’s office, in New York. In such encounters, such promises can evaporate before you leave the room. The way things worked out, I needed to be in New York a few weeks later, and that’s the truth. I went to his manager’s office and, sure enough, there was a cassette of Bruce’s song, with my name on it, awaiting me. That’s class.

Related: Edmunds performs a rare concert

Six months later, midway through a U.S. tour with my band, I was playing at the Peppermint Lounge in Manhattan. Bruce turned up — unannounced and alone but for his Fender Esquire. It was good to see him. He waited patiently in the dressing room until the end of my set, and then–although the audience knew something was cooking–he sauntered onstage. You can imagine. We played a load of Chuck Berry songs and ended with “Small Things.” So, good things one day come.


By 1982, the two were labelmates on Columbia Records. Edmunds’ D.E. 7th was his first album without his Rockpile colleagues (Nick Lowe, Terry Williams and Billy Bremner) and it became his highest-charting of his solo career.  “From Small Things” was a Top 30 rock track.

Listen to the studio version of the song

We’re not 100% positive that this is the exact performance that Edmunds writes about…

Listen to Edmunds and the song’s author perform “From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come) on September 21, 1982.

Just in case, here’s another one from three days’ earlier in Red Bank, NJ. This setlist indicates that Springsteen joined Edmunds and his band for six songs including Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” and “Carol.”

Best Classic Bands Staff

4 Comments so far

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  1. Snail
    #1 Snail 23 June, 2017, 17:00

    Dave is probably confusing 2 tours. Bruce played Wembley Stadium on 4th July, but in 1985. 1981 tours was at Wembley Arena

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  2. KailuaDon
    #2 KailuaDon 23 June, 2017, 18:03

    I can confirm the Red Bank performance between the two as I was in attendance. It was at Clarence Clemons’ Big Man West Club. Earlier in the evening I had presented Clarence with an award from the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Monmouth County organization, for which I was then serving as volunteer president and for which Clarence had raised funds. I stuck around for Dave’s performance (after being invited into Clarence’s office for some crazy punch which tasted as if it was concocted from what was left over in the nearly empty bottles behind the bar from the previous night) and was rewarded with the Bruce pop-in appearance (something that happened regularly there when the band wasn’t touring).

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    • JJ
      JJ 25 May, 2020, 11:35

      I did a gig at Big Man’s West opening up for Nick Lowe. I think it was roughly in this time period. That was a cool place and I was happy to see your comments about Dave Edmunds playing there

      Reply this comment
  3. Rollbert
    #3 Rollbert 15 April, 2023, 14:24

    Saw Dave at Warfield in San Fran April 1990. Show was billed as Dave Edmunds Rock Roll Revue.. Sets by Kim Wilson doing Fab Thunderbird tunes, Graham Parker, Dion, and Dave own set plus joining in with the other performers. Quite a San Francisco night.

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