Adele Springsteen, Bruce Springsteen's mother, dies at age 98


Adele Zerilli Springsteen, the longtime legal secretary, musical muse and concert dance partner who captured countless hearts in her son Bruce’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 of death was not immediately revealed, but Springsteen said in 2021 that his mother 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 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards - MusiCares Person Of The Year Honoring Bruce Springsteen - Red Carpet
Patti Scialfa, Adele Springsteen and Bruce Springsteen attend MusiCares Person Of The Year Honoring Bruce Springsteen at Los Angeles Convention Center on February 8, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.

Lester Cohen/WireImage


The New York City native moved as a child to Freehold, New Jersey, never fathoming she’d someday bear offspring who’d turn the Garden State 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:

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.”

In a 1978 show at the Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood, California, Bruce Springsteen told the crowd he believed his family, including his mother, were “here again tonight.”

“For six years they’ve been following me around California, trying to get me to come back home. Hey ma! Give it up, huh? Give me a break,” he said in the middle of a performance of “Growin’ Up,” which was released in 1986 on the massive live album “Live/1975-1985.”

“They’re still trying to get me to go back to college,” Bruce said, adding that his mother used to try to convince him to become an author.

“That’s a good life. You could get a little something for yourself,” he recalled her saying. 

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 at a show that was delayed several hours due to thunderstorms, finally beginning shortly before midnight of her son’s 63rd birthday. 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.”

Adele Springsteen 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.”





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