“All my life I’ve carried with me this guilt and feeling of, ‘Jeez, if only I could have stayed in the band and yet done all these other things’”: Steven Van Zandt reflects on leaving Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band just before their breakthrough

teve Van Zandt performs on stage at Estadio Cívitas Metropolitano on June 12, 2024 in Madrid, Spain
(Image credit: Mariano Regidor/Redferns/Getty Images)

From being the lead guitarist in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band to becoming an activist, accomplished actor, and songwriter, it’s safe to say that Steven Van Zandt has enjoyed a remarkably colorful career.

However, when Van Zandt decided to leave the E Street Band in 1984, he was at a crossroads in his career, and this pivotal decision would forever change the trajectory of his personal and professional life.

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Janelle Borg

Janelle is a staff writer at GuitarWorld.com. After a long stint in classical music, Janelle discovered the joys of playing guitar in dingy venues at the age of 13 and has never looked back. Janelle has written extensively about the intersection of music and technology, and how this is shaping the future of the music industry. She also had the pleasure of interviewing Dream Wife, K.Flay, Yīn Yīn, and Black Honey, among others. When she's not writing, you'll find her creating layers of delicious audio lasagna with her art-rock/psych-punk band ĠENN.