Journeyman rocker Nils Lofgren maintained a long-running dual career as a cult-hero solo artist, and as a high-profile bandmember with Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and Ringo Starr. Born in Chicago and raised in the D.C. area, Lofgren began playing music at an early age and at 15 put together an early version of his band Grin. He befriended Neil Young soon after, and at Young's behest he moved with Grin to Los Angeles. Young was impressed enough by the still-teenaged Lofgren to employ him as a singer and guitarist, beginning in 1970 with After the Gold Rush, Lofgren also guested on Crazy Horse's first "solo" album which included his first recorded song, "Beggars Day." Young helped Grin get a record deal and sang on their first album (Graham Nash sang on the second). This gave Lofgren his first taste of cult/critical (but not yet commercial) success, as Grin's pop/country songcraft was praised as an antidote to the heavier sounds of the era. In 1975 Lofgren signed to A&M as a solo artist, with a run of albums that brought him the closest to mainstream success. From the debut, "Keith Don't Go"-a fannish ode to the Rolling Stones' guitarist-became an FM radio staple, as did the Al Kooper-produced title track of 1976's Cry Tough. In 1977 he released Night After Night-a double live album, on the same label as then-recent megahit Frampton Comes Alive! -and the following year, producer Bob Ezrin pulled out all the stops for Nils, including bringing in Lou Reed as cowriter. Neither brought Lofgren the expected superstardom, and the '80s brought him a change of label and a lower profile. Then Springsteen called, needing a guitarist to replace Steven Van Zandt who'd left the E Street Band. Lofgren made his debut on the 1984-85 Born in the USA stadium tour, and his studio debut with Springsteen on Tunnel of Love. When Van Zandt returned for the 1999 reunion tour Springsteen kept Lofgren aboard as well. He was also part of Ringo Starr's first All-Starr Band tour in 1989. Lofgren remained busy, releasing Blue With Lou in 2019, his first solo album in eight years, built on the leftover songs he and Lou Reed originally wrote together for Nils. He also made a surprise return with Young and Crazy Horse for live dates in 2018, and that group completed an album due for fall 2019 release.
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