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Nils Lofgren, guitarman to the stars, also shines solo

/ Source: Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - After 26 grueling months on tour with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band playing stadiums across the globe, guitar man Nils Lofgren deserves to put his feet up until the phone rings again.

But the irrepressible Lofgren is already back on the road, treating his loyal fans to his own music in intimate venues.

"It was fabulous of course. But I do want to do my show again and now I'm doing that," Lofgren told Reuters.

"It's been something I've done simultaneously with being in other great bands really the whole of these 46 years, starting when I was 17 with 'After the Goldrush'."

It was Neil Young's classic album that first brought the teenaged Lofgren's name to attention, playing piano and guitar after he had introduced himself to the Canadian at a show.

His own debut album in 1975 was highly rated and he enjoyed the occasional hit over the years. But his reputation as one of the hottest players around led him to join the E Street Band in 1984 for the "Born in the USA" tour as a replacement for Steve Van Zandt. He's been with them ever since.

He's also collaborated with other artists, ranging from Ringo Starr and Lou Reed to Branford Marsalis.


Lofgren's own solo concerts are anything but laid back.

"I try to think of it as heavy metal acoustic. You need to be loud and to really command the room. You don't want to be a thin folk act where people can have a comfortable conversation."

At London's Union Chapel, he played old favorites like "Keith Don't Go" and "Shine on Silently" as well as Springsteen's "Because the Night". He opened playing a harp, a Christmas present from his wife Amy a few years ago.

He also tap-danced on "I Came to Dance" -- a skill he learnt after years of playing basketball necessitated him having a hip replacement and giving up sport.

Afterwards, he chatted with fans and signed copies of a 10-disc, boxed-set retrospective of his career that has recently been released. He and Amy put together the package after Concord Music secured the song rights.

"We turned our house upside down for a year-and-a half, went through thousands of photographs and posters, after a lot of work we had a beautiful package." Lofgren said he's comfortable with the balance between being a sideman and his own man.

"I love to lead bands but when you do, you're playing all the solos, you're singing all the leads. It's a bit more challenging to be the front man."

As a sideman, he enjoys getting to play everything from banjo to steel guitar.

Future plans include writing songs for a new album and more touring. "I think if I wrapped it up it would kill me."

He always checks with Springsteen's camp to make sure he's not needed for the day job.

"It's a very cherished honor and I'll certainly always be there if and when they go out again. Of course, I hope there's another chapter, like everybody else."

(Reporting by Angus MacSwan, Editing by Michael Roddy and Andrew Heavens)