CLEVELAND — The click of a camera freezes a moment in time. And iconic rock 'n' roll photographer Janet Macoska knows that as well as anyone. She's made her life's work from it.
Macoska has a new book titled "Bruce Springsteen: Live in the Heartland," which chronicles, through her many photographs, the rock legend's many shows in Northeast Ohio.
For many, Springsteen is the poster boy for rock 'n' roll over the past 50 years. He's famously from New Jersey, but if Hollywood were to write his story, he could easily have been from Cleveland.
"We are that much of him. And he is that much of us," said Macoska of Springsteen.
Macoska has shot thousands of rock concerts. She's captured well over a million images. But her first show was Springsteen's first trip to Cleveland, in February 1974 at the Allen Theater in Playhouse Square. The capacity was 3,000 people -- it was not a full house. Springsteen wasn't even the headliner, but he stole the show.
"I'm there and this little scraggly guy comes in," Macoska said of that night. "It looks like, kind of like a beatnik. I mean, he's very young Bruce, but he has Clarence with him [his longtime saxophonist].
"He gets that audience who has no idea who he is, grabs them. And that very moment, he's got Cleveland in the palm of his hands. After 45 minutes, he gets a standing ovation and it's like, okay, I really liked this place. And Cleveland, who was here for a British band, sees this guy. And they love him," Macoska said.
Two careers were born on that cold night in 1974. Macoska would blossom into one of the most notable rock 'n' roll photographers of the last 50 years. And Springsteen was on his way to becoming The Boss.
Springsteen played 36 shows in Northeast Ohio. Macoska has captured a dozen on film and shares her favorite images in the new book. From Richfield Coliseum to Municipal Stadium and Quicken Loans Arena, Macoska's lens was sharply focused on Springsteen, freezing forever in that youthful exuberance, the passion and the energy, while documenting the unique love affair between a rock 'n' roll star and a rock 'n' roll city.
"Rock and roll is like sports to the blue collar city that we were. And that's what young people wanted at the end of the day they wanted, they wanted rock and roll. That's how they let loose, you know, beer and rock and roll," said Macoska.
"He was singing songs with themes that spoke to them. He was just like them."
In 1985, Springsteen was at the height of his popularity. He played in front of 71,000 fans at Municipal Stadium, our old ballpark, where those fans were jam packed in the background in black and white. Springsteen was seen in color in the foreground, larger than life.
"Yes, he was my subject, but they were more my subject," Macoska said. "They were the story. They were the ones who were sending out, you know, this earthquake of energy towards him. And he was there to receive it and to send it back out."
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