Bruce Springsteen Admits He "Failed" His First Wife as a "Husband and Partner" | Why Did They Part Ways?

Bruce Springsteen Admits He "Failed" His First Wife as a "Husband and Partner" | Why Did They Part Ways?

When Springsteen met his first wife, Julianne Phillips, they were instantly attracted to each other.

Source: Getty Images | Photos by (L) Theo Wargo/NBC, (R) John Minihan

Bruce Springsteen is an artist with 20 Grammys under his belt along with more than 65 million albums sold in the US alone. He was also honored with the Presidential Medal in 2016 by former President Barack Obama.

Being one of the greatest rock/folk stars, one would think that his life is bound to be perfect. However, that's not true. Springsteen, 71, endured a number of personal battles with one being his crumbling marriage with his first wife, Julianne Phillips.



Phillips, who was 11 years his junior and a model by profession, met the rockstar when she was acting. She is best known for her role in the television show Sisters which ran from 1991 to 1996. In Springsteen's autobiography Born to Run, the singer described their meet in his words, “In Los Angeles, I met Julianne Phillips, an actress out of the Pacific Northwest. She was twenty-four, tall, blond, educated, talented, a beautiful and charming young woman,” as per The Vintage News.


Soon, the couple fell in love and got married in 1985. However, the only problem was that Springsteen wasn't ready for such a big commitment. The reason for his commitment issues was his troubled childhood which left him angry and frustrated in his later years.


Growing up with an abusive alcoholic father left him so emotionally detached that he couldn't accept the love he received from his significant others. This became a hindrance in his bonding with Phillips as well. After marriage, he experienced a number of anxiety attacks.



Things started to go downhill in their marriage very quickly. Turned out, the duo had different ideas of spending their lives together. While the I'm On Fire singer got busy with his music and shows, Phillips enjoyed her privacy more than anything.

While Phillips was married to the singer, he found himself attracted to his bandmate Patti Scialfa. According to Showbiz 411, Springsteen mentioned in his autobiography that he started to convince himself that the actress didn't love her but was after his fame. “There, as we politely chatted by candlelight, hand in hand, a part of me tried to convince myself that [Phillips] was simply using me to further her career or to get . . . something." However, he further added, "Nothing could’ve been farther from the truth. Julianne loved me and didn’t have an exploitive [sic] or malicious bone in her body.”


Later he came clean to Phillips about his relationship with Scialfa and by 1987, the couple parted ways after he left Phillips and moved in with Scialfa. In 1989 they finally divorced.



In his book, Springsteen stated that he dealt with his divorce “abysmally” which gave fuel to the rumors, "pain, and “scandal... It made a tough thing more heartbreaking than necessary."

While he admitted that the "poor handling" of the whole ordeal is something that he regretted, he added that he was “emotionally stunted” because of which he couldn't receive or reciprocate Phillips' love.


“She’s a woman of great discretion and decency and always dealt with me and our problems honestly and in good faith, but in the end, we didn’t really know,” he said. “I placed her in a terribly difficult position for a young girl and I failed her as a husband and partner.”

But Scialfa turned out to be exactly what he wanted in a partner. The couple's passion for music and each other kept their relationship alive. According to People, Scialfa was signed in as the only female member of the E Street Band in 1984 for backup vocals and playing the tambourine.


Even though the rest of the members considered her as "one of the guys," Springsteen sure saw something special in her. If Scialfa's art teacher's words are to be believed, she loved the rockstar dearly. According to Cheat Sheet, her art teacher, Curtis K. Smith revealed, “Patti’s been in love with Bruce for as long as I can remember. We’d always heard this and that about Patti and Bruce from [her brother] Michael. It wasn’t a big surprise around here when it finally came into the open.”

Although Springsteen and Scialfa's relationship was scrutinized by his fans, they overcame everything and married in 1991 after the birth of their son in 1990. They are still together.


So where is Phillips now? According to Affair Post, the actress has rarely appeared in public since 1997 and retired from acting to focus on her other interests.