IN 1975, when music lover Chris Zarzecki first became aware of a “new phenomenon” called Bruce Springsteen he quickly decided he was more show than substance.
Without even listening to a song, he accepted what some British music journalists were saying, that the fuss surrounding the American singer-songwriter was mostly “hype”.
More than 20 years later, having ignored Springsteen for all that time, Mr Zarzecki suddenly started taking notice after watching a documentary about The Boss in 1997.
“It showed he was a really humble and sincere guy. My wife Lynne bought me his Tracks 4CD box set for Christmas and said, ‘Shall we go and see him when he tours?’ and it all started from there.”
After attending that first concert in Manchester in May 1999, the Zarzeckis, from Linthwaite in Huddersfield, became huge fans.
They have seen him in concert 59 times, spending at least £50,000 on tickets and travel to nine countries, including numerous trips to the United States, France, Italy, Spain and Germany. Such was their all-consuming passion that they had to remortgage their house twice in order to afford the flights and hotels, not to mention 1,500 DVDs of live performances and numerous pieces of vinyl and other merchandise.
When Springsteen played at the Leeds Arena last year, the couple bought a pair of tickets for £500 from a seller on eBay.
Mr Zarzecki, 57, a semi-retired college lecturer, recalls being amazed by Springsteen’s performance back in 1999.
“I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I was absolutely spellbound. We came back with posters and T-shirts and went back to see him in Birmingham, London and at Arnhem in Holland.”
Their decision to throw caution to the wind and keep going to concerts was influenced by the death of a young college student in a car crash in 1999.
Mr Zarecki, who knew the student, said the tragedy made him determined to live life to the full and without regrets.
“There are no regrets. Whenever a tour starts, I can’t wait to get there. Going to concerts, you see places in America we would not ordinarily have gone to. And when we are at home, we blast out all the DVDs.”
Mrs Zarzecki, 55, said she was looking forward to seeing Springsteen in concert in America three more times later this year. “I’m definitely not tiring of watching Bruce. He is an incredible live performer – it’s hard to believe that he is 64.
“I have enjoyed every show, and this is from someone who hadn’t been to a live concert until I turned 40.
“You don’t realise how much you have spent until you start to add it up but it has been worth it, as besides watching Bruce it has meant we have visited places in Europe and the States that we would never have gone to. Our motto is to live for today.
“Bruce looks as though he thoroughly enjoys every minute when he is on stage and I just love the diversity of his music.
“Listening to the words from some of his songs is very inspiring. I have been close enough to touch him a few times and the objective now is to meet him.”
THE VERY BEST OF THE BOSS
Chris Zarzecki’s top tracks:
The Ties that Bind – from The River album.
The Wish -– from Tracks album.
Badlands (live) – from Live in New York City.
Incident on 57th Street (live) – The Live Collection 1.
Tougher than the Rest (live) – from Chimes of Freedom EP.
American Land – from Live in Dublin EP.
The Way – from The Promise.
Thunder Road (Chrissie slow version) – bootleg album War and Roses.
Born to Run – from Born to Run.
Something in the Night – from Darkness on the Edge of Town.