In 1985, Houston’s KKBQ radio was giving away the last of three trips to go see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in Paris.When they played the song “Born To Run,” caller 93 won the trip.
When I woke up that day I had a feeling I was going to France. I told my girlfriend at the time that I was going to win the trip. Of course she thought I was crazy. After listening all day, “Born to Run” finally hit the airwaves at 3 p.m. I frantically dialed. Busy, busy, busy, busy, then the phone rang and rang and rang. The man who eventually answered was John Lander, leader of the Q Morning Zoo. He says “You are the caller 93…. you are going to Paris to see Bruce Springsteen.” Needless to say, it was a good moment.
After a nine hour trek to Paris, we had to go to the hotel where the band was staying to pick up the tickets. When we walked into the lobby, E Street Band keyboardist Professor Roy Bittan was getting on the elevator. So I did what I always do when I see a famous person: I pointed and said “Hey!” He looked at me like I was an idiot, but gave us his autograph and took us up to the suite where we met co-manager Barbara Carr and got the tickets. No Bruce sightings. He was newly married at the time, so he was probably busy.
The concert was an outdoor show June 29 in Parque de la Corneuce. It was supposed to be in a stadium (the same stadium where they played the final soccer game in the Sylvester Stallone movie Victory) however, authorities were afraid of terrorist activity and people getting crushed. Nice.
We took a cab to the gig and somehow the driver got lost. As we’re walking up to the venue we here “Bonjour, 1,2, 3,4” and the band kicks into a rousing rendition of “Born in the USA.” The album was still near the top of the charts a year after its release, and the band was extremely tight on this wonderful night. They whipped the crowd into a frenzy with “Out in the Street,” “Glory Days,” “Dancing in the Dark,” “Rosalita,” “Because the Night,” “Ramrod,” a rousing “Twist and Shout,” and “Trapped,” which was a released a few months earlier on the We Are the World LP. He even brought out the rarely-played b-side “Shut out the Light.”
We were sitting about 100 yards away in the Columbia Records VIP section, which was really temporary bleachers in a roped off area, however, none of us cared. The tickets were free, the airfare was free and the hotel was free. You couldn’t ask for more.
After the gig, we somehow got turned around and ended up standing on a deserted street in a foreign land…but it didn’t matter. I had just seen the best rock and roll band in the world in a place I never thought I would visit….life was good.
The next day I was standing on the street outside The Boss’ hotel to see if I could catch a glimpse of the band. I was talking to a young woman on the street and after a few minutes she asked where I was from…I told her Humble, TX. She said I live in Spring Branch, which is about 20 miles away. Small world.
Here is the setlist from the show: Born in the USA/Badlands/Out in the Street/Johnny 99/Atlantic City/Shut Out the Light/The River/Working on the Highway/Trapped/Darlington County/Glory Days/The Promised Land/My Hometown/Thunder Road/Cover Me/Dancing in the Dark/Hungry Heart/Cadillac Ranch/Downbound Train/I’m On Fire/Because the Night/Rosalita/Can’t Help Falling in Love/Born to Run/Bobby Jean/Ramrod/Twist and Shout/Rocking All Over the World
“I’m On Fire” by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (Paris – June 29, 1985)
“Out In the Street” by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (Paris – June 29, 1985)
“Born In the USA” by Bruce Springsteeen and the E Street Band (Paris – June 29, 1985)
Official Bruce Springsteen website