Respected Bruce Springsteen fanzine Backstreets announced its closure after 43 years as a result of the musician’s “dynamic ticket pricing” campaign, which saw tickets for his 2023 reunion tour with the E Street Band shooting out of many supporters’ price ranges last year.
The controversial strategy, overseen by Ticketmaster, meant that some entry fees for his 2023 road trip soared to over $5,000 while fans tried to buy their way into Springsteen shows. Ticketmaster and the Boss’ manager both defended the situation, with one argument being that tickets would change hands for those prices anyway, and that the artist should receive the money instead of touts. Springsteen later admitted he wasn’t comfortable with the backlash, but explained his own approach, saying that if anyone felt they’d been overcharged after a show, they could have their money back.
Christopher Phillips, publisher and editor of Backstreets for 30 years, released an editorial at the time, condemning the dynamic policy and saying it offended fans more in terms of principal than the actual prices. In a new article, he explained why he believed the fanzine could no longer continue, although some elements including their online archive and social media accounts would remain active.
“A key reason something as gonzo as Backstreets has been able to exist, and for so long — since 1980 — is that it has consistently sprung from a place of genuine passion, rooted in a heartfelt belief in the man and his music,” Phillips wrote. “As difficult as it is to call this the end, it’s even harder to imagine continuing without my whole heart in it.
“If you read the editorial Backstreets published last summer in the aftermath of the U.S. ticket sales, you have a sense of where our heads and hearts have been: dispirited, downhearted and, yes, disillusioned. It’s not a feeling we’re at all accustomed to while anticipating a new Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band tour. … We/re not alone in struggling with the sea change. Judging by the letters we’ve received over recent months, the friends and longtimers we’ve been checking in with and the response to our editorial, disappointment is a common feeling among hardcore fans in the Backstreets community.”
He added that, while there was “every reason to believe that there will be changes to the pricing and ticket-buying experience when the next round of shows go on sale…we simply realized that we would not be able to cover this tour with the drive and sense of purpose with which we’ve operated continuously since 1980. That determination came with a quickening sense that we’d reached the end of an era.”
Phillips emphasized that “we have eternal gratitude for Bruce Springsteen and his work, for the E Street Band and the other musicians who have helped him make it, and so many of those whose work involved bringing that music to the world.” He hoped that fans would continue to share “love and joy, the camaraderie, the minutiae and close attention paid, the passion, the post-shows” and concluded: “Rave on. We have every hope of meeting you further on up the road.”
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