Make no mistake: Rocker-turned-actor Steven Van Zandt is no longer in high school.
Now 56 years old, wealthy and world-famous
as the guitarist you've seen jamming back-to-back
with superstar Bruce Springsteen, he's also won
TV fame on "The Sopranos" as Tony Soprano's
consigliere Silvio Dante. And even before
all that, his high school made it official by
expelling him for a dangerous combination of long
hair and underwhelming grades.
That was the 1960s and that decade's rebel spirit seems to have possessed him ever since.
Van Zandt admits he has one thing
in common with his Bada Bing strip-club-owning
"Sopranos" character: "We
are both permanently stuck in previous eras. Silvio
is stuck in the '50s and I'm stuck in the '60s."
It was the Beatles who first inspired
Van Zandt to pick up an electric guitar. Not long
after that he found himself part of a burgeoning
music scene on the Jersey Shore. He befriended
Springsteen and joined the now famous E Street
Band shortly before the 1975 release of the rock
classic "Born to Run." He was there
to see the band's star rise, but quit prior to
the megasuccess of 1984's "Born in the USA."
Ironically, it was the very success of the E Street
Band that led Van Zandt to leave -- but not due
to any musical disputes. He became politically
active, speaking out against America's involvement
in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Central Africa.
Both music and politics took a back
seat in 1999, however, after an encounter with
writer David Chase, who launched HBO's Jersey-based
mob series "The Sopranos." Chase
and his wife, Maureen, who plays Van Zandt's "Sopranos"
spouse, live in Manhattan, where Van Zandt has
ventured into syndicated radio shows. The
venture has proved so successful that Van Zandt
recently expanded into his own around-the-clock
station, "Underground Garage," on Sirius
satellite radio. With "The Sopranos"
coming to an end, here's what Van Zandt has to
say on his TV, radio and musical successes.
There's a parallel between Tony Soprano and Silvio
and Bruce Springsteen and you -- loyalty, trust,
Steve Van Zandt:
Oh, yeah. There are a lot of similarities
in those relationships. In both cases we grew
up together, and in both cases, I am the trusted
lieutenant -- or certainly was in the old days
of the E Street Band. So, yes, there is a
Can you say anything about the last episodes of
Steve Van Zandt:
No (laughs). We can just say there are going to
be a lot of surprises. I can say I think
it's one of our best years. A lot of different
twists and turns, and the writing continues to