Springsteen salutes Asbury's West Side scene at the Wonder Bar

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Bruce Springsteen is a West Side kind of guy.

The Freehold-born rocker joined members of the 1960s-era West Side R&B music scene of Asbury Park, along with Southside Johnny Lyon and former E Street Band drummer Vini Lopez, on stage during the Nicky Addeo and the Night Owl Band show Saturday night at the city's Wonder Bar.

Springsteen said recognition of the West Side scene and its impact on what became known as The Sound of Asbury Park is long overdue.

"The West Side guys had a strong influence on what became known as the Sound of Asbury Park," Springsteen told NJ Press Media. "There was a moment when the scenes (rock, doo-wop and R&B) crossed over, and I opened for the Broadways."

Asbury Park's Broadways had a hit with "Going, Going, Gone" for MGM Records in the summer of 1966.

"(Springsteen) used to open a couple of shows for us when he wasn't "The Boss,' " said Broadways member Ronnie Coleman, who performed Saturday night. "I think he was 16 (years old)."

Despite thriving in the '60s, the West Side music scene came to an abrupt halt during the summer of 1970, when race riots tore apart Asbury Park and specifically Springwood Avenue, the center of the scene.

On Saturday night, the Wonder Bar was filled with West Side music fans even before Springsteen showed up.

"It's great these guys are getting some recognition," Springsteen said.

Highlights of the show included a duet between Springsteen and Asbury Park native Billy Brown, who went on to stardom with the "Moments and Ray, Goodman and Brown," on "Stand By Me."

Brown's falsetto later dazzled the audience with a rendition of the Moments' hit "Love on a Two-way Street."

Addeo and Southside Johnny had the crowd rocking with "Come Go With Me," and Springsteen performed the 1962 "Don and Juan" hit "What's Your Name?" to ooohs and aaahs from the audience.

Bobby Thomas and Robert Conti from the West Wide scene also were at the show.

Earlier in the day at the city's Atonement Lutheran Church, Springsteen, Southside Johnny and members of the West Side scene participated in a discussion panel of impact on the scene on Asbury Park music.

"You could be a misfit and fit in here," Springsteen said from the panel.

The city was filled with E Street Band members on Saturday. Clarence Clemons was at the nearby Paramount Theatre for a screening of his movie "Who Do I Think I Am," as part of the Garden State Film Festival.

Springsteen and Clemons met at the Wonder Bar some 40 years ago. Yet, Springsteen's set Saturday night was the first time he had performed there.

The West Side guys were appreciative of Springsteen's participation in the show, which was part of the yearlong celebration entitled "Asbury Park: Where Music Lives."

"One guy asked me if we were going to do "Going, Going, Gone," and I said, "I'm sorry, but we haven't prepared for that and the entire group isn't here," Coleman said. "I do appreciate people remembering the songs. I told a few of them if they went on YouTube and typed in The Broadways, you'll be able to pick up the music."

There were positive vibes all around.

"I had a lovely night out," Springsteen said.

Contributing: Staff Writer Jean Mikle. Chris Jordan 732-565-7275; cjordan@njpressmedia.com

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