Origin: Middleton, New Jersey
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Steven Van Zandt (born November 22, 1950) is an American musician and actor, who frequently goes by the stage names Little Steven or Miami Steve. He plays guitar and mandolin as a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.
Van Zandt is also known for his acting in television dramas such as Silvio Dante on The Sopranos (1999–2007) and Frank Tagliano / Giovanni “Johnny” Henriksen on Lilyhammer (2012–2014). Van Zandt also had his own solo band called Little Steven and The Disciples of Soul in the 1980s.
Van Zandt found his love for music at an early age, when he learned how to play the guitar. He watched the performances of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show and Rolling Stones on Hollywood Palace in 1964 and referred to the former as “The Big Bang of Rock n’ Roll.” He said that when he was 13, George Harrison was his favorite Beatle, but he is now friends with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.
Around August 1964, he formed his first band, the Whirlwinds, which was short lived. He later formed the Mates in 1965 and joined the Shadows in May 1966. Van Zandt has cited British Invasion bands such as the Dave Clark Five, as well as Ravi Shankar and the culture of India as early influences.
So how, you want to ask, did he get the nick-name “Miami Steve?” Van Zandt grew up in the Jersey Shore music scene and was an early friend and pre-E Street bandmate of Springsteen. They performed together in bands such as Steel Mill and the Bruce Springsteen Band. During the early 1970s, Van Zandt worked in road construction for two years, before returning to show business.
In 1973, he toured with The Dovells. The tour ended in Miami during Dick Clark’s New Year’s Show at the Deauville Hotel. After going back to Jersey, Van Zandt continued to wear Hawaiian shirts because he did not like winter, which was how he got the nickname “Miami Steve.”
He co-founded Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes and The Miami Horns. Van Zandt helped establish the rhythm and blues oriented style of music that the band performed. He also produced Southside’s first three albums. Overall, Van Zandt wrote a significant bulk of Southside’s music which helped provide them with the success that they achieved.
Van Zandt then started to switch off between writing for Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes and touring with the E Street Band. He confirmed in an interview on The Howard Stern Show that he arranged the horns on “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” in 1975 when Springsteen was at a loss, earning him a spot in the E Street Band shortly thereafter.
In those early years, Van Zandt supplied a great deal of the lead guitar work for the band in concert, as can be seen on the 1975 concert DVD within Born to Run 30th Anniversary Edition (later released as the CD Hammersmith Odeon London ’75).
During the summer of 1981, EMI-America approached Van Zandt with a record deal due to his success with the E Street Band, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, and Gary U.S. Bonds. He began fronting an on-and-off group known as Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul, while Springsteen was working on Nebraska. The band included Dino Danelli on drums, Jean Beauvoir on bass, and the Miami Horns. They made their live debut at the Peppermint Lounge on July 18, 1982. In October 1982, Van Zandt’s debut solo album, Men Without Women, was released. This album earned the most critical praise and Jay Cocks of TIME magazine dubbed it one of the ten best albums of the year. Van Zandt released four more solo albums.
In 1984, Van Zandt left the E Street Band. He originally joined to see Bruce Springsteen rise in success and once the band rose to that success he left and continued producing other bands.
Miami Steve later rejoined the E Street band full-time in 1999. In 2014, Van Zandt was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the E Street Band.
Van Zandt debuted his newest album at the annual Rock and Roll for Children event at the Fillmore Theater in Silver Springs, Maryland, March 18, 2017. Van Zandt debuted a doo-wop song called “The City Weeps Tonight,” that was an outtake from Men Without Women. At the end of the show, he covered “Bye Bye Johnny” as a tribute to the late Chuck Berry.
According to Backstreets, Van Zandt’s new album is going to be called Soulfire, titled after the song he co-wrote for the Breakers. The album was officially released on May 19, 2017.
Sacramento’s K-ZAP 93.3 FM is pleased to add Miami Steve’s album title tune to our playlist! Hear it on our stream at K-ZAP.ORG/LISTEN
Men Without Women (1982)
Voice of America (1984)
Freedom – No Compromise (1987)
Greatest Hits (1999)
Born Again Savage (1999)
Lilyhammer: The Score (2014)
Born to Run (1975)
Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978)
The River (1980)
Born in the U.S.A. (1984)
Greatest Hits (1995)
Blood Brothers (1996)
18 Tracks (1999)
Live in New York City (2001)
The Rising (2002)
The Essential Bruce Springsteen (2003)
Hammersmith Odeon London ’75 (2006)
Magic Tour Highlights (2008)
Working on a Dream (2009)
The Promise (2010)
Wrecking Ball (2012)
High Hopes (2014)
Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes
I Don’t Want To Go Home (1976)
Live at the Bottom Line (1976)
This Time It’s for Real (1977)
Hearts of Stone (1978)
Havin’ a Party (1979)
Better Days (1991)
Ronnie Spector & The E Street Band
“Say Goodbye To Hollywood” / “Baby Please Don’t Go” (1977)
Gary U.S. Bonds
On the Line (1982)
Standing in the Line of Fire (1984)
Artists United Against Apartheid
Sun City (1985)
Iron City Houserockers
Have a Good Time but Get Out Alive! (1980)
Welcome to the Neighborhood (1995)
For The Working Class Man (1985)
Davie Allan & The Arrows
Fuzz for the Holidays (2004)
Introducing Darlene Love (2015)