“SNL” & “The Boss”


We forget sometimes that everyone who is a mega-star today was once a complete unknown. I’m reminded of this by the twin 35th anniversaries taking place today.

October 11, 1975 was the day that current rock superstar Bruce Springsteen first landed on the Top 40 charts with his single Born To Run.

At 11:29:30 PM Eastern Time that same night Saturday Night Live debuted from studio 8H at the GE Headquarters building at 30 Rockefeller Place (“30 Rock”) in Manhattan. It made overnight sensations out of previously unknown comics Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Gilda Radner, and the rest of the “Not Ready For Prime Time Players.”

Springsteen’s single was the title track of his breakthrough third album. He was already a critic favorite in the Northeast where his epic live performances had given him an ever-expanding fan base, but until this single premiered, most of the world had never heard of the Boss.

In a rare bit of journalistic prescience, both Time and Newsweek dubbed Springsteen rock’s next big thing and put him on their covers simultaneously two weeks later.

Born To Run eventually made it as high as #23 on the Billboard charts that year, but it placed even higher (at #21) on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”

The song was nearly voted the New Jersey state song (Springsteen was born in New Jersey), but the measure was defeated when legislators realized that its lyrics were about Springsteen’s desire to get out of New Jersey.

SNL originally known as NBC’s Saturday Night, was created by Canadian Lorne Michaels, who has been at the show’s helm for 30 of the 35 years it has been on the air. (The only cast member with more tenure is Don Pardo who still functions as the show’s announcer at the age of 92.)

When the show aired that night, it was hosted by comedian George Carlin. Pop culture would never be the same.

The show, which parodies everything American, stormed out of the gate, launching dozens of careers and featuring several classic sketches that made it to the big screen and into the national collective unconscious. Certain characterizations, like Tina Fey’s hilarious portrayal of Sarah Palin, have even influenced the outcome of presidential elections.

A lot changed on that Saturday thirty-five years ago. It makes you wonder what is currently brewing under the surface of the cultural waters that will soon emerge and change us all again forever.

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About deadwrite

Freelance writer, film historian, taphophile View all posts by deadwrite

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