Bruce Springsteen‘s mother, Adele Springsteen, died Wednesday after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. She was 98. Springsteen announced the news on his Instagram account alongside a video of them dancing outside to a recording of the 1939 Glenn Miller classic “In The Mood.”
When Springsteen on Broadway returned to the Broadway stage in 2021, he slightly altered the text of the show to talk about his mother’s condition, saying she was no longer able to speak or feed herself. But she still loved dancing to the big band music of her youth.
“When she sees me, there is always a smile,” he said. “And there’s still a kiss. And there’s a sound which she makes when she sees me. I know it means ‘I love you.’ And when I put on Glenn Miller and she starts moving in her chair. She starts reaching out for me, to take her in my arms once more, and to dance with her across the floor.”
He continued, “This is an essential part of mom’s spirt, it’s who she is. It’s beyond language and it’s more powerful than memory. It’s the embodiment. This is what she has put her trust in and lived her life by and which, despite all she has suffered, she carries on with to this moment, as if life’s beauty never deserted her. I love her.”
Springsteen had a famously combative relationship with his father, Douglas, who battled depression throughout Springsteen’s youth and felt he was wasting his time with music. Adele, however, was a rock of support. She rented Bruce’s first guitar in 1956, shortly after Elvis Presley appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, and always encouraged his musical ambitions.
“My mother was bright, happy, she’d merrily make conversation with a broom handle,” Bruce said in Springsteen on Broadway. “She believed that there was good faith, good heart, good hope in all citizens. She gave the world a lot more credit perhaps than it deserves, but that was her way…She’d be looking down at me with a look that for me, was like the grace of Mary. She made me understand for the first time how good it feels to feel pride in somebody that you love, and who loves you back.”
Adele and Douglas moved from New Jersey to California in 1969. Adele Springsteen came back east after Douglas died in 1997 to be closer to her children and grandchildren. She was a regular sight at Springsteen concerts and occasionally came onstage to dance during “Dancing In The Dark,” grinningly widely the whole time.
“I think with all the problems we had in our lives, God has rewarded me,” she told Springsteen biographer Peter Ames Carlin in 2012. “I thank God for that; I could cry over it. It’s terrible to brag. But I can brag because I’m the mother, right? It’s hard to believe he’s my son.”