Earlier this year, the documentary Asbury Park: Riot, Redemption, Rock n Roll hit theaters. Directed by Tom Jones, the film tells the story of the New Jersey boardwalk town that was ripped apart by racial tensions in the early 1970s while simultaneously giving birth to a music scene that launched the careers of Bruce Springsteen, Southside Johnny and Steve Van Zandt, among others. Gradually, music helped bring the town together and today it is an up-and-coming vacation spot with luxury towers rising near the boardwalk.
In this exclusive outtake from the movie, Van Zandt visits the remains of the legendary Upstage Club. In the late 1960s, it was was an after hours hangout where teenagers jammed long into the night. It’s also where Springsteen met several of his future E Street Band bandmates and learned to play in front of an audience. It sat vacant for decades before it was finally torn down in 2018 despite fervent protests from music historians.
“This was the start of something important,” Van Zandt says as he walked through the club shortly before it was torn down. “We were the freaks and outcasts and misfits, this is where we all hung out, the guys that couldn’t make it in what was called the mainstream. That was a big change and it started here. Should have been landmarked. Nobody gives a fuck about rock and roll history.”
Asbury Park: Riot, Redemption, Rock n Roll is now available on iTunes and Amazon.