Little Steven Van Zandt in New York City in December 2006
In late 2006, Zach Brokenrope, then a Youth Journalism International reporter from Aurora, Nebraska, visited New York City's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood with YJI co-founder Jackie Majerus for an amazing interview with rocker Steven Van Zandt.
Van Zandt, host of Little Steven's Underground Garage on Sirus radio and owner of Wicked Cool Record Co. was starting a new initiative to bring rock 'n roll into high schools. He was then also star of the hit HBO show "The Sopranos." Beyond that, he's a key member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band and previously organized Artists United Against Apartheid. He's an advocate for music education and bridging the generation gap with rock 'n roll.
Tonight, seven years after our interview, Van Zandt will be inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame with the rest of the E Street Band.
Today, we're revisiting the day he generously spent more than two hours with us, talking about a wide range of projects and issues. We published the stories below on January 8, 2007. Editing by Majerus, Steve Collins, Joe Killian and Brian LaRue.
Rock and Roll High School
By Zach Brokenrope
After 40 years of living a life dedicated to rock and roll, Little Steven Van Zandt wants to go back to high school.
It’s his passion for rock and roll that’s taking him there.
Van Zandt, guitarist for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band and a star on the hit HBO series The Sopranos, is on a mission to introduce kids to the music that shaped his life.
“We want to spread the rock and roll gospel as much as we can,” said Van Zandt. “I want to go where the enthusiasm is.”
Though rock and roll was once in the mainstream, Van Zandt said, it’s become an underground movement.
-- Tattoo video --
Little Steven talks about acting on "The Sopranos"
For the story:
Van Zandt is introducing an eight-week curriculum, tentatively titled Little Steven’s Rock and Roll High School, that can be used nationwide within music classes or as an after school program.
He aims to have it in schools starting this fall.
“We have a basic history of rock and roll in 40 lessons,” he said.
The second stage of the program, Van Zandt said, will be concert tours of old and new bands, playing high-energy gigs together in high school gyms around the country.
“We’re trying to get it out of the museum and institutionalize it in public life,” said Van Zandt. “I want to reach kids.”
|“Everybody’s welcome in the rock and roll world.” - Little Steven Van Zandt|
A wicked cool record company
To spotlight new bands – and bring rock and roll back into the musical forefront – Little Steven Van Zandt recently launched the Wicked Cool Record Co.
As part of Van Zandt’s larger enterprise, Renegade Nation, Wicked Cool will produce predominately rock and roll records by new artists.
The concept for the new label grew out of the same idea that propels Van Zandt’s popular radio program, Little Steven’s Underground Garage.
“I wasn’t hearing my favorite songs on the radio,” Van Zandt said. Click here for the whole story.
Rock and roll renegade
New rock and roll bands will soon have a place on the internet dedicated to introducing their work, thanks to Little Steven’s Underground Garage website.
Little Steven Van Zandt, host of the popular Little Steven’s Underground Garage syndicated rock and roll radio show, said he’s making room on his website for unknown bands.
Within a few weeks, Van Zandt said, the website will start a community forum that will allow users to post video and audio.
It’ll be a way for unsigned bands to present their work to an audience that otherwise wouldn’t see them, according to Van Zandt, who intends to keep an eye on the new talent.
If he sees something he likes, Van Zandt said, he’ll give the band a call. Click here for the whole story.
Little Steven doesn't always win
Little Steven Van Zandt was part of the unsuccessful fight to save CBGB’s, New York’s legendary rock club that closed in October.
Its closure, Van Zandt said, was a blow against rock and roll.
“Literally tens of thousands of tourists would come to New York just to see CBGB’s, the venue where punk was born,” said Van Zandt, deejay of the hit rock and roll radio show, Little Steven’s Underground Garage.
“It’s a shame that kids will now not be able to go in there and be on the same stage that The Ramones were on,” said Van Zandt. “It’s one of our biggest disappointments.” – Zach Brokenrope