Advertisement

Bruce Springsteen on his worst fear with peptic ulcer disease: ‘Am I gonna sing again?’

Three photos of Bruce Springsteen performing.
"When I had the stomach problem, one of the big problems was I couldn't sing," said Bruce Springsteen.

He was goin’ down.

That’s what iconic rocker Bruce Springsteen felt about his powerhouse voice during his battle with peptic ulcer disease that forced him to take a six-month break from his world tour with the E Street Band.

Indeed, at one point, the man who was born to roar was scared that he might never perform live again.

“When I had the stomach problem, one of the big problems was I couldn’t sing,” said Springsteen, 74, in an interview on SiriusXM’s “E Street Radio With Jim Rotolo” program.

“My diaphragm was hurting so badly that when I went to make the effort to sing, it was killing me,” said Springsteen. FilmMagic
“My diaphragm was hurting so badly that when I went to make the effort to sing, it was killing me,” said Springsteen. FilmMagic

“You sing with your diaphragm. My diaphragm was hurting so badly that when I went to make the effort to sing, it was killing me, you know? So, I literally couldn’t sing at all, you know, and that lasted for two or three months, along with just a myriad of other painful problems.”

Springsteen feared the worst-case scenario.

“Before people told me, ‘Oh no, it’s gonna go away, and you’re gonna be OK.’ [But] you’re thinking like, ‘Hey, am I gonna sing again?’” said Springsteen. “And you know, this is one of the things I love to do the best, the most, and right now I can’t do it.

“I can’t do it,” he went on. “it took a while for the doctors to say, ‘Oh no. You’re gonna be OK.’ At first, nobody was quite saying that, which made me nervous, you know? And at the end of the day, I found some great doctors, and they straightened me out, and I can’t do anything but thank them all.”

But as Springsteen prepared to make his triumphant return to the concert stage at the Footprint Center in Phoenix on March 19 — after abruptly stopping his tour in September — he still had some doubts.

Springsteen was back rocking with Steven Van Zandt at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Friday. FilmMagic
Springsteen was back rocking with Steven Van Zandt at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Friday. FilmMagic

“Once I started singing, you know, you can rehearse singing, but your voice isn’t the same in rehearsal,” he said. “You don’t have that edge of adrenaline that really pushes it into a better place.”

But if Springsteen’s voice was back to norm on tour, his appearance was quite different, as he rocked stark white hair and appeared paler than usual.

“That’s Tilda Swinton,” commented one social media user.

Another joked, “Is that Ellen DeGeneres?”