Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg turns 70 today.
“I feel better at 70 than I did at 30 for some reason,” he told Backstreets in a statement. “We’re vaccinated, I’ve been busy with City of Delray Beach business, & starting to perform again. Tell all the readers that their support for the past 47 years has been a blessing to me and all my colleagues.”
The “Delray Beach business” he’s referencing is his recent appointment to the Delray Beach Planning and Zoning Board in Florida, where he has a vacation house. It’s one of the many positions he’s taken to keep busy when the E Street Band in inactive. He’s also bought and sold real estate around his native New Jersey, toured with his solo group Max Weinberg’s Jukebox, and, of course, served as Conan O’Brien’s bandleader from 1993 to 2010.
All of those side gigs are put on pause whenever Springsteen decides to tour or record with the E Street Band, with the sole exception of 2009 when Conan launched his ill-fated Tonight Show stint and NBC didn’t want Weinberg to miss out on the crucial early weeks of the show. His teenage son Jay filled in for him while the E Street Band toured Europe.
Beyond that short period, Weinberg has played drums at every E Street Band show going back to September 1974 when he replaced Ernest “Boom” Carter behind the kit. And throughout all that time, he’s stayed far away from any vocal microphones. “At the first two rehearsals [in 1974] I gamely tried to sing,” Weinberg recalled in 2020. “I did not sing very well apparently, because at my third rehearsal, Bruce came up to me and said, ‘Max, you can just drum.’ And that was the end of my professional singing career with the E Street Band.”
That was true until September 24th, 2008, when Springsteen spotted a fan in the audience at a Kansas City gig with a sign that read “Let Max Sing.” It had been 34 years since he told Weinberg to stick to drumming, so he decided to give the idea another shot in front of 20,000 people. At the suggestion of Steve Van Zandt, he called out for the Beatles’ rendition of the Shirelles classic “Boys.” Ringo handled those vocal parts with ease. But as you can see from this fan-shot video, Max had some difficulties despite giving it his all.
There haven’t been any “Let Max Sing” moments since that night in Kansas City, but let’s all wish him a happy 70th. He’s been the backbone of the E Street Band for the past five decades and he’s always down for whatever Bruce feels like doing in any given moment. If the E Street Band gets back on the road next year, which seems like a safe bet, he’ll be there. Just don’t expect him to sing again.
Source: Music – Rolling Stone