Bruce Springsteen DWI arrest on Sandy Hook is contrary to his clean living public image
Many rock ‘n’ rollers live by the credo of sex, drugs and rock 'n roll.
Not Bruce Springsteen. He doesn't indulge in sex and drugs, but does indeed rock 'n' roll.
That's why Springsteen's arrest for DWI on Nov. 14 on Sandy Hook is surprising. Over a 50-plus year career, he's not been known to do drugs and to only drink occasionally.
"He’s a living example of what happens when you never do drugs your whole life." bandmate and longtime friend Steven van Zandt told Rolling Stone in 2012. "I mean, I’m sure he’s taken a drink or two a few times in his life, but he was never a drinker either."
Springsteen even threatened to fire any E Street Band member on the spot if he saw them doing hard drugs, according to the 2013 biography “Bruce” by Peter Ames Carlin.
Background: Bruce Springsteen charged with DWI on Sandy Hook
The band has lived relatively cleanly over the years, but they're haven't always been angels, said Springsteen in a recent interview.
“We had people who were into what other rock musicians had gotten into and who got themselves in trouble with it on more than one occasion and this happened with more than one member,” Springsteen told the USA TODAY Network in October. “So our general approach was to assist them and get them help as quickly as we possibly could, and I can say that worked out.”
Any such problems never reached the public’s eyes.
“We looked out for one another in that sense,” Springsteen said. “If someone was doing bad you may get a phone call, ‘Hey, I saw …, he didn’t look so good.’ Maybe I better call him up. I call him up, 'You don’t sound so good,' and one thing would lead to another and people would go into rehab and they would do what they had to do.
"But it was a group that looked out for the other guy a little closer than some other groups, and so consequently the guys who needed help, they got the help.”
Rock 'n' roll has a long history of substance abuse in its ranks, from Elvis Presley's use of prescription drugs to Keith Moon of the Who and John Bonham of Led Zeppelin drinking themselves to death, to a new generation of rappers, Mac Miller and Juice WRLD, dying of overdoses.
Springsteen and the E Street Band have been free of such afflictions. The two members who have passed away, Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici, died of natural causes.
“We were not free of the difficulties or troubles that other bands had, but we managed to treat them in a way that worked for the good of the band and for the good of that individual,” Springsteen said. “So that was a very powerful and positive thing to do.”
Springsteen eats well and works out, too. Playing four-hour concerts ain’t easy. He lifted so many weights in the '80s that he was called the Rambo of rock at the time.
“I don't do that much right now,” said Springsteen in October, of his current weight-lifting regimen while speaking to country singer Tim McGraw on McGraw's new “Beyond The Influence Radio” on Apple Music. “I lift a little weight to stay toned. I may get on the treadmill. I walk. I don't run anymore.”
Before the coronavirus outbreak, Springsteen was often seen in local gyms, working out. The diet and fitness equation seems to working — he looks years younger than his actual age of 71.
Springsteen, a native of Freehold who lives in Colts Neck, has no prior DWIs, traffic or parking tickets, or other charges in New Jersey listed in municipal court records. Springsteen has been in civil courts several times over the years, including suits involving a former manager, former roadies and the rights to his songs.
He was riding on a motorcycle on Nov. 14 when he pulled over to take pictures with fans, who offered him a shot of tequila, according to sources with knowledge of the incident. A park ranger, identified as R.L. Hayes, saw Springsteen take a shot of Patron tequila and then get on his motorcycle and start the engine, according to a copy of the federal summons made public on Thursday, Feb. 11.
The ranger pulled over Springsteen near the Sandy Hook Lighthouse and informed him that alcohol was banned in the park, according to the complaint.
“Springsteen smelt strongly of alcohol coming off his person and had glassy eyes,” Hayes wrote.
Springsteen claimed to have had two shots of tequila in the previous 20 minutes, according to the summons.
“The Patron bottle that the shot was poured out of was completely empty (750ml),” the ranger said. “I asked Springsteen if he was leaving, and he confirmed that he was going to drive out of the park.”
Springsteen was cited for driving while intoxicated, reckless driving and consuming alcohol in a closed area, according to a National Park Service.
Sandy Hook is part of federally operated Gateway National Recreation Area.
“Springsteen was cooperative throughout the process,” the NPS said.
Springsteen’s blood-alcohol content was 0.02 when he was arrested, a source familiar with the case told the Asbury Park Press.
The legal threshold indicating intoxication for driving purposes in New Jersey is 0.08, which calls into question why Springsteen was charged with driving while intoxicated, the source said.
No date for his court appearance in federal court has been set. Springsteen has not commented on the arrest either through his social media or spokesperson.
“It appears to me that the cops watched the situation and then nabbed Bruce for a minor infraction,” said fan Kevin Farrell of Ridgewood. “Even if Bruce made a mistake and was drinking, he's human and we all make mistakes. He's a celebrity and god in New Jersey but he's just a man, who’s vulnerable to making mistakes like all of us.”
Chris Jordan, a Jersey Shore native, covers entertainment and features for the USA Today Network New Jersey. Contact him at @chrisfhjordan; firstname.lastname@example.org.