Bruce Springsteen's mother Adele Springsteen, a fan favorite who danced at his shows, dies at 98
Adele Zerilli Springsteen, the longtime legal secretary, musical muse and concert dance partner who captured countless hearts in her son Bruce Springsteen 's E Street Nation and beyond, has died at 98.
Bruce Springsteen announced in an Instagram post that his mother died Wednesday. He shared a video of the two of them dancing to the Glenn Miller swing-era standard “In the Mood" with the caption “Adele Springsteen — May 4, 1925-January 31, 2024.” He then quotes at length from the lyrics for “The Wish,” one of his songs that invokes her.
“I remember in the morning mom hearing your alarm clock ring. I’d lie in bed and listen to you getting ready for work, the sound of your makeup case on the sink,” the post says.
The cause and other details were not immediately revealed, but Springsteen said in 2021 that she had been struggling with Alzheimer’s disease for a decade and could no longer speak or stand.
The mother of three — and the last of three Italian-American Zerilli sisters — was a cornerstone of Bruce Springsteen’s anthem “American Land," which honors "The McNicholases, the Posalskis, the Smiths, Zerillis too."
The New York City native moved as a child to Freehold, never fathoming she’d someday bear offspring who’d turn New Jersey into lyrical legend.
Adele Springsteen's joyful, spirited charm made her a fan magnet in her own right. "Video evidence of Adele rocking out onstage with Bruce dates back to 1992," according to Rolling Stone magazine.
She was “real smart, real strong, real creative,” with a “refusal to be disheartened,” Bruce told biographer Dave Marsh.
And her influence ran deep.
She "held our family together" through years of hardship, the musician said in a 2010 Ellis Island speech, sharing the stage with his beaming mother and aunts.
"I took after my mom in a certain sense. Her life had an incredible consistency, work, work, work every day, and I admired that greatly," he told "Uncut" magazine in 2002, praising her “noble” juggling of work and home.
"I'd visit her at her job sometimes, and it was filled with men and women who seemed to have a purpose,” he said. “I found a lot of inspiration in those simple acts.”
When Bruce was a kid, his mom scraped together some money — a story sweetly portrayed in another section of “The Wish," which he recorded in 1987 and quoted from on Instagram Thursday.
"Little boy and his ma shivering outside a rundown music store window.
That night on top of a Christmas tree shines one beautiful star. And lying underneath a brand-new Japanese guitar.
...Well it was me in my Beatle boots, you in pink curlers and matador pants — pullin' me up on the couch to do the twist for my uncles and aunts."
When her boy hit the big time she worked much larger rooms, from America to Europe.
Though well-versed in the audience-cameo ritual "Dancing in the Dark," she happily played the musical field.
In 2012 she danced and sang background on "Twist and Shout" at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium. In March 2016, when she was 90, mother and son hip-wiggled to the raucous “Ramrod” at New York's Madison Square Garden.
E Street Band member Steven Van Zandt tweeted Thursday that Adele Springsteen was the “Matriarch of our family and an unrelenting source of inspiring positive energy. One of a kind. She will always be there for us. Dancing in the audience.”
She lost her husband, Bruce's father Douglas, who inspired songs, too, in 1998.
Survivors include their daughters, Pamela Springsteen and Virginia Shave, and a bountiful extended family.
They no doubt share the sentiments Bruce expressed that day on Ellis Island.
"Thank you, Mom," he said. "I love you very much."