By Chuck Yopp
ROBERT SANTELLI, press correspondent
Chuck Yopp didn't start out wanting to be the photograph historian of the Jersey Shore music scene. And he certainly didn't envision himself one day publishing a book about the Shore's greatest music hero, Bruce Springsteen.
But that's the way it turned out. And Yopp isn't complaining.
"The music scene at the Shore is unique and very special in rock 'n' roll," explains Yopp. "I'm real happy I've had the chance to document it and Bruce Springsteen's role in it. It's been a very rewarding experience."
Yopp's book, "Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. (A Look at the Local Scene)," mostly is a pictorial history of more than 50 nights in which Springsteen has joined local and national acts onstage in Shore clubs such as the Stone pony, Asbury Park, and the now defunct Big Man's West, Red Bank, and Fast Lane, Asbury Park.
In addition there are photographs relating to Springsteen's early years, including shots of the various schools he attended and houses in which he lived, and places where the E Street Band rehearsed. There are more than 250 black and white photographs in all, taken from 1973 to 1983 by nearly 25 different Shore photographers. [see samples]
The book currently is in its second edition and includes a new color cover photograph of Springsteen shot by Shore photographer Billy Smith. It's available at Galaxy Records, Belmar; Silver Tunes, Little Silver, and It's Only rock 'n' roll, New York City. But Yopp, who publishes the book himself, sells mostly through the mail is available from Greetings Publications, P.O. box XXX, Asbury Park, N.J. 07712. The cost of the book is $25. [order here]
"Most of the books that I sell are to very serious Springsteen fans," Yopp said. "They've read all about Springsteen and have seen the standard photos of him. What my book offers fans is the opportunity to have a bound collection of photographs of Bruce on his home turf, in the bars and clubs on the Jersey Shore where he feels most comfortable."
Yopp began collecting photos, posters and tapes of Springsteen and other Jersey Shore bands more than 10 years ago. The idea to publish a book came to him after he began receiving letters from Springsteen fans asking if he would send them pictures of such Asbury Park landmarks as the Stone Pony, Madam Marie's, and the now legendary Upstage club.
"I actually got letters from fans all over the world -- and still do. I've lived at the Shore all my life and have roomfuls of memorabilia. No matter what Springsteen fans would ask me for in their letters, or what they had to say, the question 'What's Asbury Park really like"' was always included somewhere."
Originally, says Yopp, the book was to be a small undertaking. But as the project grew due to increased demand, Yopp had to sell one of his most prized possessions, a 1972 Corvette, to finance it.
"Fortunately, I got a lot of help and encouragement from local Springsteen and Shore music fans," continues Yopp. "There is a bunch of us who have been hanging out at the Stone Pony for years. A lot of the pictures of Bruce I took, but there are also a lot that were taken by members of this crowd."
Yopp has spoken to Springsteen on a number of occasions in places such as the Stone Pony and Brighton Bar. And has even urged him to go up onstage and play a few songs.
"But I never went up to him and asked him to endorse the book or anything like that," he said. "I respect the man's privacy."
Yopp did give a copy of the book to an ex-girlfriend of Springsteen's, hoping that she'd be able to get a copy to him.
"That was before he got married," Yopp said. "So maybe he has the book, and then again, maybe he doesn't."
Yopp has plans to release another picture book pertaining to Springsteen and the Jersey Shore in the future. This book, says Yopp, will deal with 50 different Springsteen appearances in Shore clubs and include more text.
Article courtesy Asbury Park Press; photo courtesy Bob Beilk: Chuck Yopp in his Oceanport home with Bruce Springsteen's 'Darkness on the Edge of Town' promotional poster.