Bruce Springsteen might be 'The Boss' today, but he admits his former band mates and him were 'complete rejects' in their early music-making days.
"I think when I was young, I wanted to be like the Rolling Stones, I wanted to be like the Beatles or Dylan or Elvis," Springsteen said in his interview with Sunday Night.
"I wanted to rock really hard, I wanted to make people excited and thrilled and happy and those were my goals."
But he had a long way to go when he met guitarist Steve Van Zandt in the 1960s, who is still one of his closest friends and band mates.
"I'd like to say we were like courageous, and you know really stuck to our guns, we knew what we wanted to do in life… but to be perfectly honest, we were losers," Van Zandt told Sunday Night.
"We were complete rejects from society, and we were like the last two guys left standing."
In his new autobiography Born to Run, to be released this month, Springsteen talks about needing the anxiety he felt in his youth to fuel his creativity.
"You're picked on, you're beat up, you're cast out. These are the A-B and Cs of rock stardom, you can't get there without those things! I don't know anybody who hasn't got there seriously without those things,” Springsteen said.
"I was young. I was dealing with a lot of anxiety and feelings I couldn't find my way through."
"Music was my first self-medication, it centered me, gave me a sense of purpose, a sense of identity. Whenever I came home from playing I felt whole."
Springsteen said his mother’s boundless optimism was countered by his father's coldness towards him.
"Everybody has something like that."
"I think most artists are fueled by their dysfunctional families and the case of creativity being very close to mental illness or linked to mental illness is very true.”
Back then Bruce earned his nickname 'The Boss' collecting money at gigs and sharing it with his band, but so far in 2016 fans all over the world have paid $135 million to see him perform.
He has toured Australia five times, received rave reviews across the board, and is set to return in early 2017.
"What happens is I wait and I catch a wave and once I catch that wave, I am just enjoying watching the audience surf it with me and once you are there I am just having fun watching the audience come out of themselves," he said.
"Then time ceases and some timeless thing occurs that is the essence of what I do, you know.
"People are just out of themselves, time has stopped and they are alive."
Hit song ‘Streets of Philadelphia’ won Springsteen an Academy Award and four Grammies – its lyrics honest and raw. In his memoir Springsteen talks candidly about the depression he suffered on-and-off throughout his career.
"My take on [the book] was I was trying to show where the music came from, that is what I took as my parameters, that was a part of it, it wasn't to try and go all Oprah Winfrey on anybody,” he said.
"It was a part of the roots of my music and it was a part of my motivation and something that really fuelled the fire."
Springsteen said he owes a lot to the woman he shares his stage with, his wife of 25 years Patti Scialfa, who taught him how to work through his emotional ups and downs.
"She gave me some boundaries and I have tended to rebel against them so she has had to deal with my recalcitrance, all the stuff that made daily living difficult for me,” he said.
"But she was very strong and very confident and she brought a lot of love, so those were very healing things over a long period of time."
Together they have three kids: Evan, Jessie, and Sam.
They have yet to fully appreciate their famous father the way his fans do.
"As they got older they understood more of what I was doing. Children have limited interest in their parent’s occupation, after they get over the initial shock and awe of seeing a lot of people cheer you, which no child really wants to see,” Springsteen added.
"They might want to see 50,000 people boo their parents and that’s interesting, that would be a lot of fun!”
- Read the foreword to Bruce's autobiography Born to Run and order copy now.
- See full tour details and purchase tickets here.