You'd be forgiven for thinking that the story has been told to death: Famous rock star visits a downtown club; so what?
However, no one could have known that on the night of June 22, 1984, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band served as a sort of blueprint for the celebrity sightings that have been increasingly common since the rise of Rock Lititz.
Just weeks after the release of the monumental "Born in the U.S.A," which featured no less than five gold-record singles, Springsteen and company were in town to work with the Clair brothers on a sound system for an upcoming tour. According to a 2013 Sunday News article by Eric Stark, the band was staying at the former Host Town motel on Keller Avenue. From there, they were met by Dana Deiter Murr, who informed them that if they were looking for something fun to do at night, The Village was the place to be. In the early morning hours of Thursday, June 21, the band descended onto the club, which also happened to be right in the middle of a week-long residency of popular local band The Sharks.
In a time before cell phones, the word still spread like wildfire across town - Bruce is here, and he's hanging out, and look, you better get here, because he might play some songs. After the first Sharks set and a few Heinekens (anecdotally the Boss's-then beer of choice), Springsteen & the E Street Band approached the Sharks to ask if the band minded if they played for a little while, and if they could borrow the band's instruments.
To a crowd of roughly 300, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band played an electrifying 35-minute concert. The six-song set was divided evenly between brand new songs from "Born in the U.S.A." (“Glory Days” and “Dancing in the Dark”) and fan favorites (“Out in the Street,” “Prove It All Night,” “Hungry Heart” and New Jersey state anthem “Rosalita”). In audio recorded from the evening, the band is in top form and clearly ready for what would be the first official "Born in the U.S.A." tour stop a week later on June 29, at the St. Paul Civic Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Throughout the set, Springsteen can clearly be heard having a ball on a smaller club stage. Introducing "Glory Days," Springsteen yells out a call to arms that audibly charms the Village crowd.
"This is a song about going out on a night like this, to a place like this, meeting someone like ... that! And wishing you stayed home!"
By the time Springsteen and the rest of the E Street Band had shuffled through the back door into a waiting station wagon, there is little chance that the ravenous Village crowd wished they had stayed home.
Though classic rock fans might be loathe to admit it, Springsteen's work trip to Lancaster County has led directly to modern day superstars such as Katy Perry and Ariana Grande popping by the area frequently.
In the intervening 35 years, Springsteen has played over 80 concerts in Pennsylvania, though none as close or as intimate as that night at the Village. Springsteen was at the height of his powers that year, and though he wouldn't be as omnipresent in popular culture as he was then, he's remained an enduring, near-mythological figure in music. You might say that this time period was when "Bruce" became "BROOOOOSE."
His most recent album, the country-esque and E Street-less "Western Stars," was released last week to the Boss' best reviews in a decade. The soon-to-be-70-year-old rock legend recently said in an interview that his next, already-written album would be a return to form with the E Street Band. Epic live shows are sure to follow
And who knows? Maybe Springsteen will come knocking on Rock Lititz' door and eventually find himself back on the Village stage once again? Stranger things have happened.