Out of respect for Springsteen, B Street Band pulls out of NJ inaugural event

Molly Eichel

Bruce Springsteen cover band the B Street Band will no longer play the Garden State Presidential Inaugural Gala out of “respect and gratitude we have for Bruce and the E Street Band.”

The B Street Band received flak after it was announced that the cover band would play the nonpartisan gala (not Trump’s actual inauguration, as had been erroneously reported by some outlets). Springsteen has been a vocal opponent of President-elect Donald Trump and critics believed the popular cover band was going against Springsteen’s ideals by playing the inaugural event.

New Jersey state Sen. Ray Lesniak, for example, tweeted: “Shame on the #BStreetBand playing at #Trump’s inaugural They’ve profited from #Bruce now they’re abandoning the message in his music.”

E Street Band bassist Garry Tallent tweeted, “Please tell me this is more fake news. Or at least a joke.”

Guitarist Steven Van Zandt weighed in via Twitter when someone asked what he thought of the cover band playing the event: “Nice guys. Met them. I wouldn’t say right or wrong. Up to them. But it’s naive to think one can separate Art and Politics. Art IS Politics.”

On Monday, the B Street Band released a statement to Springsteen uber-fan site Backstreets.com, saying it was pulling out of the festivities:

“With deepest apologies to our fans and the New Jersey Inaugural Ball committee, the B Street Band is withdrawing from performing at this year’s inauguration Gala.

“Our decision is based SOLELY on the respect and gratitude we have for Bruce and the E Street Band.

“Bruce’s music has been the foundation of our livelihood. The B Street Band would not exist without the talents of Bruce and our E Street brothers.

“We are most grateful to these rock legends and look forward to many more years of emulating and performing the Forever Music, of Bruce Springsteen.”

The B Street Band had played the gala for President Barack Obama’s two previous inaugurations and had been booked to play since 2013. Group leader William Forte referred to the band as nonpolitical. “We got some flak from the others, but nothing like this,” he told The Associated Press.

Forte spoke with Rolling Stone about all the unwanted attention the band has received as of late. “I’m worn out,” he told the magazine. “The band’s worn out. Everybody loves to have their 15 minutes of fame, but maybe not this way.”