The Fever


Note: Written in late 1971, as evidenced by a dated lyric sheet titled "(I Got The) Fever For The Girl", on display at the Hard Rock Cafe, Sydney, Australia. It is believed the earliest known live performance was during a March 1973 residency at Oliver’s in Boston, though rumors of 1972 performances exist. It was played live several more times into May. The studio version was recorded (in one take) on May 16, 1973 at 914 Sound Studios, though rumors have persisted for years that it dates from WGOE Studios, Richmond, VA on May 31. The recording features the Springsteen-Federici-Tallent-Clemons-Lopez lineup (pre-Sancious) and doesn’t include any overdubs. Mike Appel requested the studio take for publishing purposes, and Laurel Canyon Publishing company registered it as "Fever For The Girl". 'The Fever' was all but forgotten after it was recorded, dropped from the live set in mid-1973, and not included in any track sequences for album #2. After the album was released in November, it received little promotion by Columbia Records, and Springsteen himself was in danger of also being forgotten.

In late 1973, Appel and partner Jim Cretecos included it on an acetate of unreleased masters sent to UK Publisher Intersong Music. At the same time, cassettes of 7:41 track of "The Fever" were prepared, and sent to radio stations known to be supportive of young Springsteen's music, a rather short list. However, the song became an underground hit in places like Houston, Phoenix and Boston. In Philadelphia, according to a listener, “the song exploded!” With vigorous backing by influential Philly DJ and Bruce fan, Ed Sciaky, the song was played on WMMR as part of their regular rotation. Meanwhile, the publishing acetate fell into the hands of bootleggers, and soon "Fever" and "Resurrected" were being sold under the counter at record stores.

"The Fever" became a legendary 70s progressive FM-radio hit, but nowhere as big as in Houston, Texas, thanks to the March 1974 Liberty Hall shows, and several radio broadcasts. After a successful interview by KLOL-FM's Ed Beauchamp on March 8, Springsteen was invited back the next day with the E Street Band, for a lengthy afternoon radio performance that included highlights from both his albums, plus a rendition of "The Fever". That night at Liberty Hall, a fan yelled "The Fever" and Bruce responded with "it's a weird thing 'The Fever'… that song 'Fever' we did as a demo tape about a year ago… and Mike here… sent it down to just this radio station, you know…. and it's a song we never even did but uh like we did it on the radio today, but I promise if we'll come back, we'll work it up for you." At the late show the next day, Springsteen introduced the song by saying: "We're gonna try something now, this is a song we haven't done in about a year but we found out that they sent a demo down here … we're gonna give it a try for you, hope we'll remember … it's a song we did about a year ago, no, we did it when we were recording the second album … they sent the tape down here and I guess KLOF has been playing it you know… who?… is that wrong? Sorry, folks but whoever, the radio station." David Sancious later said he had been under the impression it was an old Sam Cooke classic.

After the band left Texas, "The Fever" was not played again live until they returned on July 14, 1978 to San Antonio. Springsteen had "gifted" the song to his friend Southside Johnny in December 1975 for his debut album, so he no longer considered it for his setlists. But his hardcore fans had other ideas, persuading him to play it on the Darkness tour in many cities because, according to Bruce, "people would jump onstage and grab me by the head and scream, ‘Bruce! Fever!" It was played at Sam Houston Coliseum in Houston the next evening, and twenty-two more times to the end of the Darkness tour. Though he joined Southside Johnny for duets many times, it was not released or played by Springsteen for the next 20 years. In 1998, a huge uproar ensued when it was omitted from "Tracks", forcing it's official release on 18 Tracks the following year. The fans have made "The Fever" one of Springsteen's greatest hits. It has also become Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes' GREATEST hit, performed over 1,000 times since 1976.

In early 1977, a bootleg 7" demo (the studio take from 1973) of "The Fever" was released on "Bruce Records", coupled with "Rendezvous", recorded live on November 4, 1976, at the Palladium, New York, which opens with Bruce calling out "New York! Go ahead, Max!". In 1979, The Pointer Sisters recorded the song under the title "(She Got) The Fever", for their album Priority. The song was part of the movie soundtrack to the 2007 film Lucky You.

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