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When Bruce Springsteen first discovered The Beatles, his life suddenly broke open. He had never heard music that made him feel like theirs did and was caught up in a desperation to hear more from them. He liked the band so much that he cut his hair to look like them. While they were a popular band, the Beatle cut was not a popular choice among Springsteen’s peers. He explained that he was constantly at risk of physical confrontations because of it.

Bruce Springsteen cut his hair to look like The Beatles

Springsteen first heard The Beatles while in the car with his mother. He knew he was listening to something that would change his life.

“The Beatles. I first laid ears on them while driving with my mom up South Street, the radio burning brighter before my eyes as it strained to contain the sound, the harmonies of ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand,'” he wrote in his book Born to Run. “Why did it sound so different? Why was it so good? Why was I this excited?”

When Springsteen bought the album Meet the Beatles!, he could finally put faces to the music. What struck him most was their hair.

“All it said was Meet the Beatles. That was exactly what I wanted to do,” he wrote. “Those four half-shadowed faces, rock’ n’ roll’s Mount Rushmore, and . . . THE HAIR . . . THE HAIR.”

He styled his own hair to look like the Beatles’, something that greatly increased his risk of physical confrontations. 

“The a** whippings, insults, risks, rejections and outsider status you would have to accept to wear it,” he wrote. “In recent years, only the punk revolution of the seventies would allow small-town kids the ability to physically declare their ‘otherness,’ their rebellion. In 1964, Freehold was redneck ugly and there was no shortage of guys who were willing to make their rejection of your fashion choices a physical affair. I ignored the insults, avoided the physical confrontations as best I could and did what I had to do.”

Bruce Springsteen found a ‘rip-off’ Beatles album

Before Springsteen found Meet The Beatles! at the record store, he went on a desperate search for anything that would let him listen to more of their music. He found an early recording in which they were a backing band. It wasn’t what he was looking for, but he still played it often.

“The first thing I found was something called The Beatles with Tony Sheridan and Guests,” he wrote. “It was a rip-off. The Beatles backing some singer I’d never heard of doing ‘My Bonnie.’ I bought it. And listened to it. It wasn’t great but it was as close as I could get.”

He soon realized he wanted to be a musician like The Beatles

Following his discovery of The Beatles and dreaming of one day meeting them, Springsteen set his sights higher. 

“I lived for every Beatles record release,” he wrote. “I searched the newsstands for every magazine with a photo I hadn’t seen and I dreamed . . . dreamed . . . dreamed . . . that it was me.”

Bruce Springsteen sings into a microphone while holding a guitar.
Bruce Springsteen | Brooks Kraft LLC/Sygma via Getty Images

He wanted to look like The Beatles not so they could pick him out of a crowd, but so he could get onstage and join in with his idols. 

“My curly Italian hair miraculously gone straight, my face clear of acne and my body squeezed into one of those shiny silver Nehru suits,” he wrote. “I’m standing tall in a pair of Cuban-heeled Beatle boots. It didn’t take me long to figure it out: I didn’t want to meet the Beatles. I wanted to BE the Beatles.”