Steel Mill

Steel Mill

Steel Mill was one of Bruce Springsteen's early bands and performed regularly on the Jersey Shore, in Virginia, and also in California from 1969 till January 1971.


In 1969 Springsteen jammed regularly at a small Asbury Park, New Jersey club named The Upstage, and there he was noted and immediately contacted by three other regulars of the place, organist Danny Federici, drummer Vini Lopez and bassist Vinnie Roslin, in order to form a band, which was called Child. From 1969 through 1971, Springsteen performed around New Jersey with Child, later renamed Steel Mill after Bruce heard that there was already another band named Child performing on the Jersey Shore.They went on to play at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, and also performed regularly at small clubs in Asbury Park and along the Jersey shore, quickly gathering a cult following. Steel Mill also tried their luck heading out to California in late December 1969, and in January of the following year they played an unforgettable multiple night stand at The Matrix, a San Francisco club founded by Marty Balin of Jefferson Airplane. But most of all the California trip was marked by an invitation from Bill Graham to perform at his Fillmore West and then to audition at Pacific Recording Studio, in San Mateo, at 1737 S. El Camino Real. Also referred to as "Pacific Recorders", this studio is best known as the place where both The Grateful Dead’s Aoxomoxoa LP and Carlos Santana’s debut LP were recorded.

The audition resulted in the recording, on February 22 of 1970, of three band originals: "Guilty", "The Train Song" and "Going back to Georgia". The event represents the first true professional studio recording in Springsteen career and was followed by a recording contract offer by Graham. The offer was eventually turned down because the advance money was judged too small. When Steel Mill returned home the band was joined by Springsteen long time friend Steven Van Zandt, who replaced Roslin on bass, and later by vocalist Robbin Thompson. Steel Mill disbanded at the end of January, 1971.Vini Lopez has recently reformed Steel Mill and the band has released a CD on Mega International records. The new lineup of the band consists of Vini Lopez on drums, Bill Kacerek (Bill Kace)on Keyboards, Ed Piersanti on bass and John Galella on guitar. Tinker West the original manager is also the current manager for the project. Steel Mill Is currently in the studio working on their next release.

Federici, Lopez, and Van Zandt would go onto become members of Springsteen's longtime backing group The E Street Band. The very name Steel Mill would presage Springsteen's late 1970s interest in working class Americana, as exemplified by later songs such as "Factory" and "The River" and so on.

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