Bruce Springsteen's first manager, Mike Appel, managed to get Bruce an audition in Manhattan on May 2nd, 1972, with legendary talent scout John Hammond of Columbia Records. All John had managed to do to that point in his abysmal career was discover Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Robert Johnson, Bessie Smith, Aretha Franklin, Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan.
According to Hammond, on the day of the audition, he came out of his office to welcome Bruce and Mike, and "Mike started yakking. He said 'I want you to know that we're just, you know, being nice to you because you're the guy who discovered Dylan and we just wanted to find out if that was luck or whether you really have ears.' So I said 'Stop, you're making me hate you!'". An angry Hammond apparently sat down, looked at Bruce and said "Play!"
After hearing Bruce play for a half hour or so, Hammond decided he needed to hear how Bruce interacted with a live audience. Within a few hours, Appel had booked Bruce into the Gaslight Au Go Go, a 300 seat venue in Greenwich Village that opened the month before following the merger of the Cafe Au Go Go, and the Village Gaslight (made famous by Bob Dylan in the early '60s). Bruce played for maybe 30 minutes. John Hammond was impressed and invited Bruce back to CBS the next day to record a demo tape. Bruce recorded 14 songs in two hours. Some of those songs found their way onto Bruce's first album.
There is no known audio or video recording of that night at the Gaslight, although today's clip is sometimes attributed to that evening. In fact, this clip comes from a gig a few months later, in August of 1972 at Max's Kansas City, in New York. Bruce was an un-promoted, unbilled solo act for a six nights, opening for Dave Van Ronk. At least one of the shows was filmed and this two song clip comes from that show.
From his short lived solo career, here is Columbia's new Bob Dylan, a complete unknown named Bruce Springsteen. Would you have signed this guy?