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Super Bowl Gig Means More For Springsteen Guitarist

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Sunday, February 1, 2009

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Super Bowl XLIII certainly means a lot to the players and staffs of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals.

But Nils Lofgren will is pretty invested in the Big Game, too.

The guitarist for Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band says this year's Super Bowl fuses "a lot important chapters of my life from the sports arena and music." He will, of course, be playing with Springsteen and company in the halftime show, part of the promotional push for The Boss' new album, "Working on a Dream," which came out last week.

Hanging around Tampa all week has also given Lofgren a chance to push his new album, "Tuff Stuff! The Best of the All-Madden Team," a collection of the "roaring rock instrumentals" he wrote and recorded over the years for TV commentator John Madden's annual all-star teams.

And, as a 13-year resident of Arizona, he's also a Cardinals fan, though the Maryland native's heart belongs mostly to the Washington Redskins.

"It's kind of a perfect storm for me," says Lofgren, 57, who's also celebrating his 25th year with Springsteen. "It was funny, too, because three weeks out my wife, Amy, said, 'Looks like I'm not going to the Super Bowl.' I understood; all the traveling and the hoopla, it gets old if you're not working.

"And, honestly, a month ago nobody was really thinking about the Cardinals going to the Super Bowl...and all of a sudden we're at the NFC Championship game here in Phoenix, and I think Amy realized she was going to the Super Bowl. I'm excited 'cause I get her to come and hang out with."

The game has also given Lofgren a chance to revel in some memories he has of Super Bowls past. He's only been to one -- XXXVIII in 2002, when the New England Patriots upset the St. Louis Rams 20-17, as a guest of Madden's -- but during Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." tour in 1985 the guitarist had a chance to bask in a bit of home town glory when his Redskins played the Denver Broncos.

"Bruce happened to throw a Super Bowl party," recalls Lofgren, who played football himself as a youth, "and I think (John) Elway put (Denver) up 10-0 early in the first quarter, and it looked like a rout. I was bummed. Everyone in the room was for Denver, and they started trying to shame me.

So Bruce, who was really on the fence, just enjoying the game, he decided he'd bet on the Redskins with me -- the only two guys in the room of 15, and everyone else put their money on Denver. And the second quarter started and (Redskins quarterback) Doug Williams changed the history books with a 35-point quarter. So, needless to say, from then on it was a different afternoon for me as a Redskin fan. It was a great Super Bowl party."

And Lofgren expects to feel the same way when the E Streeters take the stage for their 12-minute segment.

"It goes way beyond just a gig," says Lofgren, who's playing his first major show since having bilateral hip replacement surgery in the fall. "TV's never your favorite thing to do in a great band 'cause it removes the three-hour sweatfest. That being said, after 40 years on the road, it's without a doubt going to be the best and greatest TV opportunity any of us will ever have.

"For me, playing the Super Bowl...it's going to be incredible. And, listen, Bruce has been turning down that gig since '75. We're all thrilled he accepted it this time."

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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