Two of the summer's biggest gigs take place this weekend when Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band set up camp at Ireland's biggest stadium, Croke Park.

Springsteen has been a fixture in many peoples' lives for the last few decades, but how much do you really know about the New Jersey native?

Unless you're a die-hard aficionado of The Boss, some of the below facts might come as a surprise to you.

Speaking of 'The Boss', how did that nickname come about? Read on to find out...


1. You might not be able to tell by the name, but Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen can claim Irish heritage. His dad, Douglas Frederick Springsteen (whose nickname was 'Dutch') was of Dutch and Irish lineage via Bruce's great-great grandmother Ann Garrity, who emigrated from Rathowen, Co. Westmeath in the 1850s. He has Italian roots on his mother's side, by the way.

2. He has sold more than 120 million albums over the course of his 50+ year career, making him the 15th best-selling artist of all time. His biggest-selling album remains 1984's 'Born in the USA', which had sold an incredible 30 million copies by 2012.

3. His career in music was started when his mother Adele (that's her dancing with him at a recent gig below) bought him a guitar as a youngster for $18. She later took out a loan to buy him a $65 Kent guitar when he was 16. The first song he learned to play was 'Twist & Shout' by The Beatles – a song he keeps in his setlist to this day.

4. He was the eldest of three children, with two younger sisters, Virginia and Pamela. Pamela went on to become a photographer, and supplied the photos on several of his albums including The Ghost of Tom Joad and Human Touch.

5. His life could have taken a very different turn as a teenager when he was called for induction in the US Army. He avoided being sent to Vietnam by failing a physical examination as a result of a concussion caused by a tumble from a motorbike the previous year.

6. His high school band was called The Castiles and he played in several dive bar bands upon leaving school. His eventual long-term backing band The E Street Band were formed in the early 1970s and took their name from the street in Belmar, New Jersey that original keyboardist David Sancious lived on, where they would rehearse in his mother's house.

7. Some of the songs that he has written have been bigger hits for other artists – like 'Because the Night' (Patti Smith) and 'Blinded by the Light' by Manfred Mann's Earth Band. Did you know that he also wrote 'Fire' by The Pointer Sisters and 'Protection' by Donna Summer? One of his most commercially successful songs, 'Hungry Heart', was originally written for The Ramones after seeing them play in New Jersey - but he decided to keep it for himself.

8. He's been married to musician and E Street Band member Patti Scialfa for 25 years, and they have three children: Evan, Jessica and Sam. Jessica is an award-winning showjumper, Sam is a firefighter in New Jersey while Evan is an aspiring songwriter like mum and dad. It's Springsteen's second marriage: he was married to actress Julianne Phillips from 1985 – 1988.

9. As for that nickname, The Boss? It comes from that period he spent playing clubs and bars in New Jersey, where he took on the responsibility of collecting the band's fee and distributing it after gigs. It's somewhat better than his previous nickname, Doctor.