Born in the U.S.A. – Rock n’ Roll Birth Sites (Photo Essay)

Born in the U.S.A. – Rock n’ Roll Birth Sites (Photo Essay)

They weren’t all born rock stars – but they were all born. Here are 10 birth sites not just of musicians, but of bands and some musical genres, too.

Bruce Springsteen – Monmouth Medical Center, 300 Second Avenue Long Branch

springsteen

On September 23, 1949, musician Bruce Frederick Springsteen was born here, at what was then called Monmouth Memorial Hospital.

His parents, Douglas and Adele Springsteen, lived at 87 Randolph Street in Freehold at the time. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band released their first album in 1973, but it was their second disc, The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle in 1974 that led a rock critic to call Springsteen “the future of rock n’ roll.”

A year later Springsteen released the now classic Born to Run to critical and popular success, and he was a bona fide rock star, nicknamed “The Boss.” The 1980s saw the release of other hit albums including The River and Born in the U.S.A.

His song, My Hometown on that album refers to Freehold. In the 1990s Springsteen left his backup band and did a number of solo recordings, but by the end of the decade was touring with the band again.

  • Sun Studio – 706 Union Avenue Memphis, TN

rock n roll

Although disc jockey Alan Freed is credited with coining the phrase in 1951 to describe music that originated as early as the 1940s, the most pivotal, seminal recordings came from Sun Studio.

On July 5, 1954, a nervous teenager named Elvis Presley came into Sun Records to lay down a few vocal tracks. Needless to say, it went well.

This tiny Memphis studio had other glory days as well. Opened in 1950 by a local radio station engineer named Sam Phillips, some of the most legendary moments in rock and roll history were captured here. Today, the studio has been restored as a museum, where you can even touch the microphone that Elvis used to make his first record.

  • Bob Dylan – St. Mary’s Hospital 407 E. 3rd Street Duluth, MN 

dylan

The great singer/songwriter Bob Dylan was born Robert Zimmerman on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, and spent his first six years in this port city at the end of Lake Superior.

When Dylan was in kindergarten, his family moved to his mother’s hometown of Hibbing, a mining town about seventy-five miles north of Duluth. After living briefly with relatives, they settled into a home on the corner of Seventh Avenue and 25th Street, where Dylan spent the remainder of his youth and high school years.

Bob Dylan became one of the giants of late twentieth-century popular music, writing such classics as Blowin in the Wind (1963), The Times They Are A-Changin’ (1964), Like a Rolling Stone (1965), All Along The Watchtower, (1968), Lay Lady Lay (1969), and Tangled Up in Blue, (1975). Dylan has been recording and performing since 1962, combining folk, country, blues, and rock. His albums Highway 61 Revisited (1965), Blonde on Blonde (1975), and Blood on the Tracks (1975) have been continuously ranked by critics as the all-time greatest rock recordings.

  • Janis Joplin –  St. Mary’s Hospital 3600 Gates Boulevard Port Arthur, TX

joplin

Blues singer-songwriter Janis Lyn Joplin was born here on January 19, 1943.

The gravel-voiced chanteuse rose to prominence in the late 1960s as the lead singer of Big Brother and the Holding Company, and later as a solo artist. Among her best known recordings are Me and Bobby McGee and Move Over, and a performance at Woodstock in 1969 furthered her national profile.

In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Joplin #46 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. She died in Los Angeles, California on October 4, 1970, of a drug overdose at the age of twenty-seven. A plaque can be found in front of her childhood home at 4330 32nd Street in Port Arthur.

There is also a Joplin exhibit on the second floor of the Museum of the Gulf Coast, at 700 Procter. It features her artwork, music and a replica of her painted Porsche. Near a Joplin statue, her music is in rotation with that of several Gulf Coast musicians such as the Big Bopper and George Jones.

  • Grateful Dead – 838 Santa Cruz Avenue Menlo Park, CA

grateful dead

Back in the early 1960s, a rambling old house stood here, sort of a hostel for various musicians, artists and beatniks.

Banjo player Jerry Garcia resided here with lyricist Robert Hunter, and so for many fans, this is the group’s spiritual birthplace. Once they started up as The Warlocks (they would change their name soon after), they would play a local pizza place, Magoo’s Pizza Parlor, which was located at 639 Santa Cruz Avenue in Menlo Park.

Today, that site is a furniture store.

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