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You want fun and great music, hang with Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez

todayAugust 19, 2023 7

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The music scene here in New Jersey is unprecedented. Outside of the Brill Building at 1619 Broadway in New York City in the ’60s and early ’70s, nowhere else in the country will you find a better history of rock and roll music than in the 1.61 square miles of Asbury Park. I love it.

So many talented musicians have gone on to such successful careers. That’s the case with my friend, Vini Lopez.

Vini grew up in Neptune, NJ with fellow world-class musicians Garry Talent and Southside Johnny. Garry of course went on to become a member of The E-Street Band as did Vini, and Southside became a prolific songwriter and performer in the 70s and 80s which still keeps him at the forefront of Jersey Rock and Roll today.

They were all part of the Upstage music scene that ran from 1968 to 1972. The Upstage was on Cookman Avenue in Asbury Park. It was a club that didn’t serve alcohol but served up a lot of music, rock and roll music.

Bruce Springsteen was part of that scene. Upstage is where many local musicians would go and jam.

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One of the rules of The Upstage was that you had to play original music. Bruce would call on Vini, Garry, and eventually, guys like David Sancious and Clarence Clemons to jam. Stevie Van Zandt would jump in. Bruce put a band together that included Vini, Garry, David Sancious, and Vinnie Roslin called Steel Mill.

Vini Lopez contacted a local promoter Carl “Tinker” West who became their manager and Tinker would be responsible for taking Bruce and the band outside of New Jersey and introducing them to the rest of the world. Things started to escalate and Bruce met with Clive Davis and signed him to Columbia Records with a multi-record deal.

It was Clive Davis who gave Vini Lopez the nickname “Mad Dog”. They changed the name of the band to Bruce Springsteen and The E-Street Band, made a few personnel changes and the two albums went out and were well received.

Although Vini left the band before the third album came out, Born to Run, he was an original member of the E-Street Band and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April 2014.

He would, on occasion, be called upon by Bruce to play at certain concerts and has carried the name Steel Mill Retro and played under that banner showcasing his music.

He and his lovely fiancé, Dawn, are great to be around and he’s always stepping up to help those in need.

New Jersey is proud and fortunate to have Vini Lopez. Thanks for the music and friendship Mad Dog.

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The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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