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Bruce Springsteen Presents ‘Big Man’ Award to Steven Van Zandt

Bruce Springsteen Steven Van Zandt
Jim Dyson, Getty Images

E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt isn’t solely interested in preserving rock’s past, he is also deeply committed to creating future generations of musicians. last night (Oct. 16), the man known as “Little Steven” received the Big Man of the Year award from Little Kids Rock. He was presented the award by his longtime friend and musical partner, Bruce Springsteen.

“There’s been no better bandmate or wingman or friend to me than Steve Van Zandt,” Springsteen said. Springsteen then took jabs at pal, recalling days they used to live together almost killed the friendship. “It was sort of like a two-man cell at Rahway Prison…My recollection — and Steve may contradict me — Steve was a slob…. He was an Oscar that forced me into the Felix role.”

In an era when arts programs are being routinely cut from public schools, Little Kids Rock is an organization dedicated to providing instruments and instruction to children. The Big Man of the Year award is named after E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons, who received the award in 2009. Van Zandt has devoted considerably time to Little Kids Rock over the years, and, after calling Springsteen a liar, spoke of their importance in his acceptance speech.

“You watch these kids’ eyes light up when you hand them a guitar,” he said. “We haven’t left much for the next generation. We have left our progeny no practical means by which to make a living in music. We find ourselves with no government support, no infrastructure left in the private sector, and no standards of quality in sight. Instead of whining about it, we’re gonna do something about it. Because, I don’t know about you, but I’m not gonna live in a world without great rock & roll.”

The musical portion of the show brought together many musicians Springsteen and Van Zandt have worked with over the years, including Elvis Costello, Darlene Love and Tom Morello, who sang Van Zandt’s anti-apartheid hit, “Sun City.” The third member of Asbury Park, N.J.’s Holy Trinity, Southside Johnny, joined the entire group for the final number, his classic “I Don’t Want to Go Home,” which was also written by Van Zandt.

The event, through silent auctions and other prizes, raised $800,000 for Little Kids Rock.

Next: Springsteen and the Best Super Bowl Performances

Watch the All-Star Finale of the Little Kids Rock Ceremony

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