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Bruce Springsteen Reveals Diagnosis That Made Him Think He'd Never Sing Again

The rock artist was forced to take a six-month leave from music to recover from the disease.

Bruce Springsteen is tougher than the rest. After taking a six-month hiatus, The Boss has made a full recovery following his peptic ulcer disease diagnosis in Sept. 2023, which forced him to cancel all his remaining 2023 tour dates with the E Street Band. And while Springsteen is back in good health, the "Born in the U.S.A." singer admitted that things were touch and go for a while. At one point, he wasn't sure he'd ever grace the stage again.

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In a new interview on Sirius XM's E Street Radio, Springsteen said the disease made it impossible to belt out a tune, let alone carry on with a whole set, because of the burning pain growing in his diaphragm.

The diaphragm muscle in particular "maximizes the air supply that you have in your lungs, allowing you to control exhalation, which is the act of singing," explains MasterClass. In other words, an artist is more likely to sing off-pitch and run out of breath with an injured or strained diaphragm.

"My diaphragm was hurting so badly that when I went to make the effort to sing, it was killing me, you know? So, I literally couldn't sing at all, you know, and that lasted for two or three months, along with just a myriad of other painful problems," Springsteen said on the radio show.

Springsteen was diagnosed with peptic ulcer disease, "a condition in which painful sores or ulcers develop in the lining of the stomach or the first part of the small intestine (the duodenum)," according to the Cleveland Clinic. In healthy people, the stomach lining is armed with a "thick layer of mucus," but in the presence of ulcers, it can become inflamed or even wear away.

While the pain was unlike anything he'd ever experienced, Springsteen admitted he was more concerned about whether the disease was going to leave a permanent impact on his ability to sing.

"You know, you're thinking like, 'Hey, am I gonna sing again?' and you know, this is one of the things I love to do the best, the most, and right now I can't do it," he reflected.

Only after doctors assured the "Born to Run" singer that he would be back to his old self in no time did Springsteen feel like he could finally breathe a sigh of relief.

"[They said] 'You're gonna be okay,'" he continued. "You know, I can't do it, and it took a while for the doctors to say, 'Oh no. You're gonna be OK.' At first, nobody was quite saying that, which made me nervous."

Now with the disease behind him, Springsteen is ready to get back on the road and serenade his fans. "At the end of the day, I found some great doctors, and they straightened me out, and I can't do anything but thank them all," he said.

The Springsteen & E Street Band 2024 World Tour is headed to California next and will make a few other stops in the U.S. before embarking on their international leg in May.

Emily Weaver
Emily is a NYC-based freelance entertainment and lifestyle writer — though, she’ll never pass up the opportunity to talk about women’s health and sports (she thrives during the Olympics). Read more
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