Steven Van Zandt remembers his debut as a musician. It's the first time that he has met and played with Bruce Springsteen to represent his beloved character, Silvio Dante, in the Sopranos in the last episode of "The First Time".
Van Zandt tells the first time that he was playing guitar until 1963, when his grandfather had shown him a song from his village of Calabria, Italy. He notes that it was a year before the Beatles made their American debut on The show Ed Sullivan. "So I jumped on everyone, "he snaps. Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" was Van Zandt's first song in the summer of 1965, with his first group, the Shadows. "It must have gone well," he laughs. "If I got booed, I'd probably get a legitimate job right now."
He fondly remembers the first time that he met Bruce Springsteen. "We got along right away," he said with a smile. He points out that there were not many bands before the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan, so any member of the group was automatically friends. "It was also weird to have long hair," he says. "If you had long hair, you were friends. If you had long hair and you were in a group, you were the best friends, which was the case with us. "Van Zandt laughs, summing up the close connection that united Springsteen: everything, and it was a strange way to be at the time, because it was not yet a legitimate business. It was always that bizarre teenage obsession that most kids came from … but we never grew up. "
Van Zandt tells the story of his nickname, Little Steven. He discusses the characters he had in his previous bands, such as the Miami Horns. He compares the E Street Band to a rock and roll version of the Rat Pack. "I was the character of Dean Martin, the party guy. Of course, Bruce was Frank [Sinatra] and Clarence was Sammy [Davis Jr.] The first musical inspirations of Van Zandt were Little Anthony, Little Walter and Little Richard – who eventually presided over Van Zandt's wedding in 1982.
To enter the role of Silvio Dante in the Sopranos, Van Zandt wrote a biography of the gangster, detailing his story to make it as authentic as possible. With a 1950s haircut, Dante was nostalgic of the mafia's debut. "I went and found out where John Gotti had his clothes made … I felt if I could look at myself in the mirror and see the guy, I could be the guy." He remembers having met James Gandolfini at first reading and the way he was welcoming. was to Van Zandt, who had never acted before. "I really miss him every day," he says, pausing to think. "We were very close."
Elsewhere in the interview, Van Zandt details the first time that he's playing with Paul McCartney – when the Beatle joined Springsteen and the E Street Band on stage at Hyde Park in London in 2012, the historic show where the London officials pulled the plug after the musicians played against the curfew. However, the highlight of Van Zandt was when McCartney joined him on stage with his group Disciples of Soul in 2017. "The appearance of him on my stage, supporting me as well as my music … it was huge. That's the guy without whom I would not do that. For it to validate you … I have to do something good.
Additional reports by Kory Grow.