How Bruce Springsteen’s Wife’s Secret Crush Turned into a 30-Year Love Story

AP Photo via Toka

Bruce Springsteen’s love songs have provided a soundtrack to countless real-life romances, but perhaps none so much as The Boss’s own marriage to E Street Band member Patti Scialfa.

How Bruce Springsteen Met Patti Scialfa

In 1980, Springsteen met Patti for the first time in a fateful encounter in the famous New Jersey bar The Stone Pony, according to The Daily Mail. Still in the early days of his career, the young rocker had earned critical acclaim with his first album, Greetings from Asbury Park, and achieved some commercial success by his third, Born to Run. According to Rolling Stone, the two Jersey Shore singer-songwriters had grown up only ten miles apart, though they’d never met before.

Sharing a mutual admiration for each other’s music, Scialfa joined the E Street Band as a backup singer in 1984. The two went on to perform passionate duets during his breakout Born in the U.S.A. tour—and later, 1988’s The Tunnel of Love Express Tour—and some onlooking fans suspected they wanted to be more than just bandmates.

But in 1985, he married a different woman, model, and actress Julianne Phillips. With a different background and an 11-year age difference, Bruce’s first wife was a mismatch. Julianne Phillips would file for divorce after only three years of marriage in 1988.

Bruce Falls in Love with Patti

Shortly after his first marriage ended, his friendship with Scialfa blossomed into love. Patti held a candle for Bruce throughout his first marriage, according to Curtis K. Smith, Scialfa’s old art teacher. “Patti’s been in love with Bruce for as long as I can remember,” he told People in 1988, in an article that declared their relationship a return to the rock star’s New Jersey roots.

Amid fan accusations that the “Dancing in the Dark” singer was “going Hollywood,” the two moved to Los Angeles to start a family. Evan James Springsteen was born in 1990, shortly before the two were married. Evan was followed a year later by their second child Jessica (who grew up to be a champion equestrian) and their third, Samuel, in 1994.

Bruce and Patti Today

Patti and Bruce’s marriage stood the test of time, through countless days on the road, Bruce’s battles with depression, and nearly three decades of marriage. Patti recently joined her Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-honored husband onstage in New York City for the final curtain call of his award-winning “Springsteen on Broadway” musical show (now available on Netflix).

Watch: What Do Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Blinded by the Light’ Song Lyrics Mean?

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