Rock Bands Influenced by Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen's career has spanned 40 years, influencing a couple of generations of future singer-songwriters and bands. But perhaps the greatest testament to the Boss is not the number of bands he's inspired but the many different types as this list demonstrates, Springsteen has influenced post-punk, alternative rock, roots-rockers, hair-metal, and even a soft-spoken English troubadour.

Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire Neon Bible Album Cover


One of the 21st century's first proudly anthemic bands, Arcade Fire proved to be indie-rock heroes on 2007's Neon Bible. Along the way, they also hooked up with the Boss, appearing in concert together and covering each other's songs. Both Arcade Fire and Springsteen have an ability to write high-quality stadium songs that whip their fans into a frenzy without settling for lowest-common-denominator gimmicks. Plus, Arcade Fire is renowned for their high-energy shows, drawing comparisons to Springsteen's marathon gigs with the E Street Band.

Badly Drawn Boy

The Hour of Bewilderbeast album cover


Damon Gough, better known as Badly Drawn Boy, is a soft-spoken English singer-songwriter who pens sensitive relationship tunes. But one of his favorite artists is Bruce Springsteen? That might seem like an odd musical idol for an artist who specializes in delicate, layered chamber pop, but on albums like 2000's The Hour of Bewilderbeast, Gough channels the nervous heartbreak of Springsteen's seminal relationship album Tunnel of Love.

Bon Jovi

Slippery When Wet album cover


Hailing from Springsteen's home state of New Jersey, Jon Bon Jovi adapted Bruce's stadium-worthy romantic messages for the hair-metal craze that became popular at the end of the 1980s. Bon Jovi hits like "Livin' on a Prayer" sounded like they were populated by the same wide-eyed dreamers that Springsteen sang about on Born to Run, and the songs' jukebox immediacy made Bon Jovi beloved by regular folks everywhere.

Drive-By Truckers

Drive By Truckers - The Big To Do album cover


The Georgia sextet Drive-By Truckers fuse Southern rock and alt-country to tell stories about regular people dealing with tough times. Like Springsteen, this band uses their ordinary protagonists to discuss larger social ills: alcoholism, broken homes, suicide, infidelity, war. On their 2010 album, The Big To-Do, DBT demonstrates that despairing subject matter can still be rousing if you put enough passion and volume into it.

Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters album cover


Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl teamed up with Bruce Springsteen (and Elvis Costello) at the 2003 Grammys to perform during a tribute to the Clash's Joe Strummer, but beyond their love of a punk pioneer, Grohl and Springsteen share an everyman quality that is part of their appeal. As with Springsteen, there's something amazingly ordinary about Grohl's appearance and demeanor but rather than making these artists seem anonymous, this regular-Joe persona has given their heartfelt songs an undeniable ring of authenticity.

The Gaslight Anthem

Gaslight Anthem - American Slang album artwork


It's not just the fact that the Gaslight Anthem hail from New Jersey why they get compared to the Boss. Like Springsteen's early records, this punk-influenced quartet sing about big-city dreams with a yearning spirit that's set against music that's full of surging resilience. And on 2010's American Slang, they turned that romanticism into taut, anthem-ready rock that helped the indie band find a larger audience.

The Hold Steady

Boys and Girls in America album artwork


For Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn, the whole world resembles the bar-band beauty of Springsteen's '70s albums, particularly Born to Run's piano-soaked anthems. On Boys and Girls in America, the Minneapolis/Brooklyn rockers explored the crummy love lives and dead-end jobs of small-town characters who, to paraphrase a line from the Boss, still had romantic dreams in their head.

The Killers

Sam's Town album artwork


When the Killers set about recording the follow-up to their successful debut, Hot Fuss, these Las Vegas postpunk rockers set their sights on the Jersey shore. 2006's Sam's Town could have been renamed Springsteen's Town; the band drew from the sweeping, soaring impulses of Bruce's best material, transplanting his vision of '70s burnouts to turn-of-the-century Sin City kids fumbling to make love last. They toned down the Springsteen influences on their next album, Day & Age.

Kings of Leon

Kings of Leon Only by the Night album artwork


Kings of Leon frontman Caleb Followill shares with Bruce Springsteen a willingness to explore his own failings in songs that feel personal but never whiny or melodramatic. In rock mode, Springsteen has mostly stayed true to classic rock 'n' roll traditions, but in later years, he's explored more nuanced sounds on ​Magic and The Rising. In the same way, Kings of Leon have evolved from '70s-style classic rockers to the craftsmen of edgier albums like 2008's Only by the Night.

John Mellencamp

Scarecrow album artwork


During his rise in the 1980s, John Mellencamp was often dismissed as little more than a Midwestern response to Springsteen's New Jersey aesthetic. But this Indiana roots-rocker has demonstrated over a 30-year career, and particularly on 1985's Scarecrow, that he is one of the most faithful observers of the American dream and the many ways it has failed to materialize for a lot of hard-working folks. Like Springsteen, Mellencamp has shifted back and forth from rock to folk in his songwriting to speak truth to power.

Pearl Jam

Riot Act album art


Pearl Jam joined up with Bruce Springsteen for the 2004 Vote for Change Tour, a series of shows organized in crucial swing states running up to that year’s presidential election. Like Springsteen, Pearl Jam were tireless critics of President Bush, particularly on 2002's "Bu$hleaguer," a diatribe against Dubya that was equal parts satire and disturbing snapshot of the mortally-wounded country his administration had wrought.

Rage Against the Machine

Renegades album art


At the time, it seemed bizarre that rap-rock band Rage Against the Machine would cover Springsteen's whispered folk ballad "The Ghost of Tom Joad" on tour in the mid-'90s. But as guitarist Tom Morello's recent solo records have demonstrated, this pioneering protest band understood that the Boss was a kindred spirit in speaking out against social ills and that a song's volume didn't matter as much as the content of its social consciousness.


The Joshua Tree album artwork


As a sign of their mutual respect, U2 and Bruce Springsteen inducted each other into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but the bond between the band and the songwriter goes deeper than that. Before U2 started conquering stadiums at the end of the '80s with The Joshua Tree, Bruce showed them how you could combine huge songs and genuine emotions with his Born in the U.S.A. tour. And like Springsteen, U2 managed to become superstars while mixing personal and political lyrics that expressed universal themes in rousing ways.