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Bruce Springsteen’s Mother Adele Dies at 98; He Pays Tribute With Lyrics From ‘The Wish’

Bruce Springsteen’s official Instagram announced on Thursday that his mother Adele Ann Springsteen died Wednesday. The rocker paid tribute to his mother by quoting lyrics from his song “The Wish,” which describes his younger years.

“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. And the ladies at the office all lipstick, perfume and rustling skirts, how proud and happy you always looked walking home from work.

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It ain’t no phone call on Sunday, flowers or a Mother’s Day card. It ain’t no house on the hill with a garden and a nice little yard. I’ve got my hot rod down on Bond Street I’m older but you’ll know me in a glance. We’ll find us a little rock ‘n roll bar and we’ll go out and dance,” the lyrics read.

Born Adele Zerilli in Brooklyn on May 4, 1925, she moved to Freehold, N.J. in 1940, where she and husband Doug Springsteen raised three children, Virginia, Bruce and Pamela. She was of Italian descent, and raised Springsteen as a Catholic, attending mass frequently at St. Rose of Lima Church in Freehold.

While Springsteen’s father worked a number of jobs to support the family, Adele became the primary breadwinner working as a secretary, earning enough money to buy Bruce his first guitar, a moment Springsteen immortalized in the lyrics to his song, “The Wish” as a “brand-new Japanese guitar” under the Christmas tree “and how proud and happy you always looked walking home from work.” The Springsteens moved from New Jersey to California when Bruce was a teenager, but Bruce stayed in Freehold.

In later years, the Springsteen matriarch cut a mean rug at her son’s shows, joining him on stage at the Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia for “Dancing in the Dark” and shaking a tailfeather to “Ramrod” at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

“Not bad for almost 90,” Springsteen told the Philadelphia crowd in 2012.

Adele Springsteen loved to dance, and her Rock and Roll Hall of Famer son obliged often, taking her to local Jersey spots like The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park for a night out watching Eddie Testa or other entertainment.

“My mother loves to dance,” Springsteen said during a 2021 performance at Springsteen on Broadway in New York.. “She grew up in the ’40s … (with) the big bands and the swing bands, and that was a time when dancing was an existential act.”

Springsteen told Today in 2021 that despite her battle with Alzheimer’s, his mother still recognized him.

“She can’t speak. She can’t stand. She can’t feed herself. But when she sees me, there is always a smile. Still a smile. And there’s still a kiss,” Springsteen said. “And there’s a sound which she makes when she sees me. It’s just the sound but I know it means ‘I love you.’

“And when I put on Glenn Miller and she starts moving in her chair — she does, she does — she starts reaching out for me, to take her in my arms once more and to dance with her across the floor.”

Springsteen continued, “This is an essential part of mom’s spirit, it’s who she is. It’s beyond language and it’s more powerful than memory. It’s the embodiment. This is what she has put her trust in and lived her life by and which, despite all she has suffered, she carries on with to this moment, as if life’s beauty never deserted her. I love her.”

Springsteen is survived by her three children, daughter-in-law Patti Scialfa, son-in-laws Bob Roth and Michael Shave, grandchildren Evan, Jessica and Sam and Ruby Roth, Christopher Shave and Marisa Potts, and great-grandchildren Lily Harper Springsteen, Nicole and Samantha Shave, and an extended family of relatives.

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