NEW YORK — A magazine and website that has served Bruce Springsteen’s fans for 43 years is shutting down, with its publisher writing that he’s been disillusioned by the debate over ticket prices for their hero’s current tour.
Backstreets had been an unusually robust publication that imposed journalistic rigor on its writing and photography, while leaving no doubt of its fan worship.
But the complaints about high ticket prices left people there “dispirited, downhearted and yes, disillusioned,” publisher Christopher Phillips wrote late last week in a post announcing the shutdown.
“Disappointment is a common feeling among hardcore fans in the Backstreets community,” he wrote. Phillips did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
Springsteen’s manager, Jon Landau, said that “we are very sorry to hear the news of Backstreets closing and want to thank Chris Phillips for his 30 years of dedication on behalf of Springsteen fans everywhere. “
There was an uproar among some Springsteen fans when tickets first went on sale last summer, particularly over Ticketmaster’s dynamic pricing model, which sent tickets soaring to $5,000 or more when there was high demand. At a congressional hearing last month following the fiasco over Ticketmaster’s handling of Taylor Swift tour tickets, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana suggested major artists like Springsteen and Swift should demand fee caps.
Springsteen’s team has defended the prices as being in line with what is charged today by many of his peers. Like many artists, he says he’s annoyed when unscrupulous ticket brokers — not the musicians — benefit from high markups.
Ticketmaster has said the vast majority of fans were able to buy tickets at face value, which averaged $202. The tour began Feb. 1 in Tampa, Florida.
Many Springsteen fans have been with him for decades, appreciating his working class New Jersey roots, and can remember when a ticket for a four-hour, high-energy show on the “Darkness on the Edge of Town” tour in 1978 could be had for $7.50.
That’s not reality anymore. Springsteen hasn’t backed down, telling Rolling Stone magazine that fans unhappy with the price after seeing the show can have their money back.
“You certainly don’t like to be the poster boy for high ticket prices,” he told the magazine, but said you have to own your decisions and do your best.”
Phillips wrote that many Backstreets readers have lost interest because they can’t afford to go to the show.
He said he hadn’t given up on being a fan of Springsteen’s music, and that others shouldn’t, either.
“We simply realized that we would not be able to cover this tour with the drive and sense of purpose with which we’ve operated continuously since 1980,” he wrote. “That determination came with a quickening sense that we’d reach the end of an era.”