Bruce Springsteen and the $100,000 Tip

Tony Ehinger spent 25 years with Credit Suisse before retiring as managing director in 2011. He now oversees operations at Sandy Farm in Morris County, New Jersey. When he is not farming Tony Ehinger enjoys listening to the music of Bruce Springsteen.

With 20 Grammy Awards and more than 120 million records sold, two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Bruce Springsteen is hardly an unknown musician. Still, there are a number of tales about the New Jersey-born guitarist and singer that may surprise even the most ardent fan. One of these played out during the summer of 1989, a rare year when Springsteen had neither an album to promote or tour to play; instead, he traveled from bar to bar with friends and stayed out of the spotlight. An impromptu show at a pub in Prescott, Arizona, began in this unassuming way, but soon attracted a crowd of more than 100 people to the tiny venue.

The secret set–consisting of several Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley covers–would be an interesting story all on its own, but another twist makes it even more special. Before the show began, Springsteen had engaged in conversation with bartender Brenda Pechanec. Pechanec revealed that she was deeply in debt as a result of several divorces and ongoing cancer treatment, and later that night, assisted the Boss in escaping the unruly crowds. Apparently she made quite an impression on Bruce, as a few days later she received Springsteen’s tip in the mail: a $100,000 check to be used for further treatment.

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