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In 1975, Bruce Springsteen was at a crossroads. One of rock's most tipped cult attractions, he had yet to find major commercial success and the pressure of being hyped as "the new Dylan" was taking its toll. "For a while there, I lost the spirit of the thing," he later said as the recording of his third album, a make-or-break opus titled Born to Run, ran into 14 tortured months. 

Meanwhile, young photographer Barbara Pyle had befriended Springsteen and his E Street Band, and found herself both in the studio and on the road with them. This was the antithesis of showbiz glamour - the bus was a camper van, and there were college gigs where they changed in the locker room. But Pyle's intimate, off-guard shots showed a band loosening up. In New Orleans, she caught Springsteen "genuinely smile" for the first time in more than a year.

Her pictures became a record of the last time it was just Bruce and the band, freewheeling their way to the next show. Born to Run was released in August to great acclaim, prompting simultaneous cover stories on Time and Newsweek as Springsteen found himself and international sensation.

The Times Magazine

22 Aug, 2015

James Jackson