Stevie Van Zandt reflects on ‘big mistake of my life’ after quitting Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band

Stevie Van Zandt has opened up about what he described in his memoir as a “very public career suicide”, when he walked away from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.

The rock musician, 73, already had a long association with The Boss when he joined his band in 1975.

However, during the recording of Springsteen’s breakthrough 1984 record Born in the USA, Van Zandt chose to quit the group in what he has called “the big mistake of my life”.

After leaving, he released a number of solo records under his moniker Little Steven, and also starred in the critically adored crime drama series The Sopranos as Silvio Dante from 1999 until the show concluded in 2007.

Among his many other ventures have been as a songwriter, arranger and producer, radio host, author and record label owner. He is now the subject of a new HBO original documentary, Steve Van Zandt: Disciple.

Speaking to The Guardian, Van Zandt elaborated on what he wrote about in his book, Unrequited Infatuations, as he revealed he still carries mixed feelings over his decision to quit the E Street Band.

Van Zandt plays with Springsteen (left) at the Kia Forum in Inglewood, California during their 2024 tour (Getty Images)
Van Zandt plays with Springsteen (left) at the Kia Forum in Inglewood, California during their 2024 tour (Getty Images)

“All my life I’ve carried with me this guilt and feeling of, jeez, if only I could have stayed in the band and yet done all these other things,” he said.

“Wouldn’t that have been wonderful? I realised when I analaysed it that is ridiculous and that wouldn’t have happened.”

By staying in the band, he explained, “there wouldn’t have probably been any solo records, there wouldn’t have been the Sun City record, there wouldn’t have been The Sopranos or Lilyhammer.”

“I don’t know what I would have done,” he continued. “I would have perhaps produced a few things and who knows where I would have went? But if I’d continued to dedicate my life to Bruce Springsteen’s vision I would never have realised my potential.

“I still haven’t, obviously, but I got a few things done and I think they wouldn’t have gotten done if I’d stayed.”

Van Zandt  (second from left) in ‘The Sopranos’
Van Zandt (second from left) in ‘The Sopranos’

Van Zandt remains a member of the E Street Band and is described by Springsteen in the documentary as his “rock’n’roll brother”.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014 along with his E Street bandmates.

Elsewhere this week, The Bear star Jeremy Allen White disclosed that he wants to perform his own vocals when playing Springsteen in the forthcoming biopic, Deliver Me From Nowhere.

The actor will star as the “Born to Run” singer in the project, which is set around the time he was releasing his 1982 album Nebraska.

Jeremy Allen White (left) and Bruce Springsteen in 1987 (Getty)
Jeremy Allen White (left) and Bruce Springsteen in 1987 (Getty)

“We’re gonna try our best,” White, 33, explained during a red carpet interview with Variety.

He also revealed that he has yet to meet Springsteen, although they have been “communicating a little bit through some other people”.

“I’m trying to have a bit of, I think, my own process with it before meeting the man,” The Bear star explained. “I want to try and have a bit of understanding so that when I meet him I’ll have a bit of confidence somewhere in me.”