Bruce Springsteen just plain doesn't like taking pictures with the E Street Band. In fact, among all of his official studio releases, the only appearance of an E Street Band member on a Springsteen album is this one.
That, of course, is the legendary Born to Run, easily one of Springsteen's most iconic album cover images of all time. The front side features about three-quarters of the back half of Clarence Clemons. Unfortunately for Clarence (R.I.P.) and the rest of the band, iconic album covers aren't really something the Boss goes in for, so this was a one time only kind of thing. Sure, that image of his denim-clad ass in front of an American flag will be remembered forever ...
But for the most part, Springsteen album covers vary wildly from corny ...
To boring ...
To ... well, that's about it. Corny or boring. But through it all, one thing remains: The E Street Band never appears on the cover of a Springsteen studio album. Hell, they usually aren't even listed by name.
But hey, it's probably just some long-standing personal rule with Springsteen that, as the one that people pay money to see, he should be the only person on the album cover in those instances when he happens to employ other musicians to aid in the recording of his songs.
Oh, right. That's an album he did with a ragtag group of musicians in his living room. They've made one album together. The guy on the far right is LaBamba from Conan O'Brien's band. You know who's not in that picture? Max Weinberg. He was the leader of Conan's house band during his time on the show, and he was the drummer in the E Street Band from the 1970s until just a few years ago. But he wasn't in this particular Springsteen band. So, LaBamba has appeared on the cover of more Springsteen albums than Max Weinberg.
Nothing shitty about that!
So this is something you don't hear brought up much when people discuss the storied legacy of Jersey schlock-rock masters Bon Jovi. For the first 10 years or so of their career, the bass player in Bon Jovi was basically hair metal's answer to Milli Vanilli.
This is what we know. The man who played bass on "Runaway" was named Hugh McDonald.
"Hi! You don't know me!"
The kind of people who still have tape decks in their cars will likely recognize that song as Bon Jovi's very first single released way back during the dawn of the Chicken McNugget in 1983. Somewhere between the recording of that song and the release of his first album, Jon Bon Jovi assembled a band that, for whatever reason, did not include McDonald. For the next 10 years, a man named Alec John Such was the face of bass when it came to the band Bon Jovi.
Because you can't just let a face like that do nothing.
But in 1994, Such was given the ax. It eventually came to light that his dismissal was prompted by his complete and utter lack of ability to play his bass parts correctly when performing live. But wait, seeing as how Such was the only credited bass player on all of those great Bon Jovi albums that your mom loved and got pregnant to, he must have been playing those parts in the studio, right? So that would have to mean that he nailed it once. How is it not getting easier each time he plays it from there? I doubt Eddie Van Halen nailed that tappity-tap stuff on his initial attempt, but at this point you can roll his meth-addled carcass on stage in any condition at any time and he'll do at least a serviceable job of recreating the magic. Meanwhile, his fucking 12-year-old plays bass now or something.
Here's the thing. You won't see it on any official album personnel listings, but McDonald played bass on every Bon Jovi album. What source do I have to back up that claim? McDonald's own discography as listed on his own website. Go ahead and check it out, you'll see every Bon Jovi album listed.
Is it too outlandish to wonder if Such was brought into the Bon Jovi fold all those years ago for reasons other than his technical ability and in fact never played a note of bass on any of the band's albums? Of course not -- the second half of that very theory is somewhat confirmed on their episode of VH1's Behind the Music.
At around the 3:20 mark, it's mentioned that, at the time of his firing, Such indeed had stopped playing on Bon Jovi albums. But "albums" is the word they use. Plural. The band only had five at the time of his firing. That "s" at the end negates his participation in at least two of them. Decide for yourself what you think happened with the other three.
What my gut tells me, though, is that McDonald played every bit of bass that Such was credited for during his time with Bon Jovi. But why? I honestly don't know, but coming from a band whose lead singer famously may or may not have once asked drummer Tico Torres to get liposuction, I'm just going to assume that Hugh McDonald, who is a full eleven years older, simply didn't look the part when it came time for Jon to put his band of 20-somethings from Jersey together.
To be fair, three women and two dudes is a nice balance though.
Honestly, I don't think I even want to know what kind of misguided "I'm from Jersey, so my shitty cock-rock band is just like the Mafia" ideals led Jon Bon Jovi to perpetuate this coverup for all of those years, but I'm assuming they're the same ones that keep him from making it right.
See, after years of standing in the shadows, putting in the work to make all of those legendary '80s albums as legendary as they were while some other guy got all the credit in public, McDonald still wasn't made an official member of Bon Jovi after Such left. Sure, he is indeed Such's replacement and has been since the mid-'90s, but his membership in the band is still deemed "unofficial." To this day, you won't see him on any album covers or smiling in promotional photos alongside Jon and Richie and that weirdo with the perm who plays keyboards.
Lucky for him, they all sucked anyway.
But he's still there, just as he's always been. Hugh McDonald, the only bass player Bon Jovi will never need.