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Vivienne Patricia "Patti" Scialfa ("SKAL-fah") (born July 29 1953) is an Americanmarker singer, songwriter, and guitarist, best known for being a bandmate and wife of Bruce Springsteen.

Early life

Scialfa was born in Deal, New Jerseymarker. She was the middle child of Joseph Scialfa and Patricia (née Morris) Scialfa. She also has half-siblings from her father's second marriage. Her father was a successful local entrepreneur, who started with a single television store and became a real estate developer.

Scialfa was writing songs from an early age and first worked professionally as a back-up singer for New Jersey bar bands after she completed high school. In 1994, she stated in a Lear's Magazine interview that she had little talent for anything but music and that she attended college as a way to further her ambitions as a performer while also satisfying parental expectations. She has a music degree from New York Universitymarker, earned after she transferred from the University of Miamimarker's highly-respected jazz conservatory at the Frost School of Music.

Music career

While in college, Scialfa was submitting original material to other artists in the hope that it would be recorded. However, none of her songs were recorded and after graduating, Scialfa worked as a busker and waitress in Greenwich Villagemarker. Together with Soozie Tyrell and Lisa Lowell, she formed a street group known as Trickster. For many years, she struggled to make her way in the songwriting and recording industry in New York and New Jersey before playing at Kenny’s Castaway in Greenwich Village, as well as Asbury Parkmarker's The Stone Ponymarker. Scialfa had a brief role in The Stone Pony's house band Cats on a Smooth Surface. These gigs won her notice and, eventually, recording work with Southside Johnny and David Johansen.

In 1984, Scialfa joined the E Street Band, three or four days before the opening show of the Born in the U.S.A. Tour, either because Springsteen wanted to expand the emotional range of the band (Marsh, Glory Days) or because Nils Lofgren contracted mononucleosis, which made it impossible for him to sing his backing vocals;. In 1986, she appeared on the Rolling Stones' Dirty Work album, leaving her unique vocal mark on "One Hit (To the Body)" as well as other tracks. She worked with Keith Richards on his first solo disc Talk is Cheap. Steve Jordan, who co-produced the Richards' record, was a friend of Scialfa's from her Greenwich Village days.

Scialfa maintains her music industry friendships over many years. Her friendship with Soozie Tyrell and Lisa Lowell pre-date their mutual work as background vocalists and musicians on the Buster Poindexter 'aka' David Johansen album (featuring "Hot-Hot-Hot") of 1987; Lowell and Tyrell have since worked on various Springsteen-Scialfa recording projects and Tyrell, violinist, has recorded and toured with Springsteen and the E Street Band.

Scialfa has recorded three solo albums, 1993's Rumble Doll, 2004's 23rd Street Lullaby and 2007's Play It As It Lays. Her first two albums received four-star reviews from Rolling Stone, while the third got three and a half. Her records are a mix of confessional songwriting, impressive vocal range, and traditional country, folk and rock music. Springsteen and fellow E Street bandmates like Lofgren and Roy Bittan contributed backing work. Following the release of her second album, Scialfa played a series of club dates along the East Coast and she was also the opening act of the post-final night of the Vote for Change tour.

Private life and public image

Patti Scialfa and Bruce Springsteen met through the New Jersey Shore music scene. The two remained casual friends in the early '80s. In a September 2007 Rolling Stone interview, Scialfa stated her and Bruce's relationship at that time "would have to have been the real deal, or nothing at all."

During the 1988 Tunnel of Love Express tour, Scialfa took a central role in the sexually-charged stage performances, such as "You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)," "Tougher than the Rest" and "I'm a Coward", thereby displacing Springsteen's traditional on-stage foil, saxophonist Clarence Clemons. Springsteen and Scialfa were later pictured together in tabloid photographs on a hotel balcony in Rome. Springsteen was married at the time to model Julianne Phillips.

Springsteen's divorce from Phillips was finalized in 1989. In 1990 Scialfa gave birth to the couple's first child, Evan James. On June 8, 1991 Springsteen and Scialfa married at their Beverly Hillsmarker home. Springsteen and Scialfa had two more children, Jessica Rae (1991); and Samuel Ryan (1994).

When Springsteen decided to retire the E Street Band in 1989 and record and tour with a new session band, Scialfa suffered the fallout. Clarence Clemons, for one, not so inconspicuously suggested that bands "shouldn't let girls join" when asked by Rolling Stone magazine for an explanation behind Springsteen's decision.

The Springsteen-Scialfa union weathered the initial media attention and their partnership in music and life is seen as one of the strongest in the entertainment world. Nevertheless, Scialfa has been forced to tolerate, if not overcome, the impression that her own career as a lead singer is a result of her marriage to Springsteen and not a result of her own talent. She might be best known as the woman who inspired Springsteen to write (the bawdy) "Red Headed Woman". He also dedicates his famous cover of Tom Waits' "Jersey Girl" to her in concert (although his initial performances of the song pre-dated his relationship with her).

Scialfa, Springsteen, and their children live in Rumsonmarker and Colts Neckmarker in New Jerseymarker. Scialfa is most recently a member of Springsteen's Seeger Sessions Band (where she is reunited with Lisa Lowell). On that Seeger Sessions Band Tour, as on tours since 1999–2000's Reunion Tour, she sometimes misses shows or stretches of shows to return home and take care of the couple's children. As Springsteen once told a Rotterdammarker audience in 2003 during The Rising Tour, when she began a five-show absence, "Patti sends her regards, she couldn't be here. The kids need her more right now than the band."

During the opening leg of Springsteen and the E Street Band's 2007–2008 Magic Tour, Scialfa achieved a breakthrough of sorts when for the first time one of her songs, "Town Called Heartbreak", was played in its entirety during the set. However she missed much of the rest of the tour due to domestic responsibilities. During the first leg of the 2009 Working on a Dream Tour, she missed a number of shows due to injuries suffered when she fell off her horse, and missed most of the shows after that for reasons unspecified.


  1. Patti Scialfa - Interview. Acoustic Available online at:
  2. Scialfa and keyboardist Roy Bittan both appeared on Human Touch and Lucky Town, and Roy Bittan was included in the subsequent tour with the new band. Scialfa's guest appearance on the MTV Plugged special aside, Scialfa did not participate in the tour.
  3. Simmons, Sylvie Rolling Stone Clarence Clemons - Profile and Interview. 1995. Clemons is asked about the quote and claims he has overcome his initial disappointment with Springsteen's decision in 1990 and Patti Scialfa's role in it. Available online at: (subscription fee required)
  4. Backstreets (website). Available online at:
  5. reuters news wire. 3 Oct 2007. Springsteen performs "Magic" in tour open.

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