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Hidden Image on Springsteen’s ‘Born to Run’ Cover Recreated by NJ Craftsman

Bruce Springsteen Born to Run cover
Can you see the hidden image? (Columbia Records)

Even some of the most devoted Bruce Springsteen fans may not be aware of the hidden image on the cover of his landmark 1975 album Born to Run.

The photo of Springsteen leaning on the shoulder of saxophone player Clarence Clemons while holding his signature Fender Telecaster has become one of the most recognizable and iconic images in the history of popular culture, but take a closer look at The Boss’ guitar.

On the pickguard, between the two pickups is an image of a man standing under a streetlamp being watched from a nearby window.

The original image was done by a leathersmith and the material did not withstand the rigors of the road,

The hard to see image on the Born to Run cover.

deteriorating slowly until Springsteen eventually abandoned it.

Asbury Park, NJ luthier Dave Petillo recently undertook the task of recreating the pickguard image for The Boss.

Petillo is the son of Dr. Phillip Petillo, a mechanical engineer, craftsman and inventor who made a career out building, repairing and restoring a variety of musical instruments under the name Petillo Masterpiece Guitars.

The senior Petillo is known for his innovation and has done work for the likes of Springsteen, Tom Petty, Keith Richards, KISS and the Steve Miller Band.

Dave followed in his father’s footsteps and the pair worked together until the senior Petillo’s passing in 2010.

Petillo has used his amazing skills in marquetry to replicate Springsteen’s original leather pickguard in durable phenol with fine materials including mother of pearl, dark turquoise, gold flake and Tahitian grey pearl.

He also took some artistic license in recreating the image. The unidentified woman in the window has been updated with red hair and the initials PS (for Patty Scialfa) appear over her head. The ground floor window now features the signature silhouette of Clarence Clemons, saxophone in hand. The words Asbury Park, New Jersey also appear.

Petillo says on his Facebook page that in the future, he hopes to add images of Danny Federici and Terry Magovern as well.

For now, the one of a kind piece is on its way to Springsteen, who begins the European leg of his Wrecking Ball tour in Barcelona, Spain on May 13.

dave petillo pickguard
Born to Run pickguard, recreated by Dave Petillo (Facebook)

Check out more photos of the custom pickguard on Petillo’s Facebook page.


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