Eight years ago the Boss broke hearts when he became engaged to Julianne Phillips

When Bruce Springsteen became engaged to Julianne Phillips in May 1985, the Asbury Park Press reported, ”You could almost hear the sound of hearts breaking all along the Jersey shore.” Though Springsteen, 35, had dated show-biz types like photographer Lynn Goldsmith and actress Joyce Hyser, his choice of Phillips, 25, still stunned fans: A wealthy model and starlet, she seemed everything a scruffy Jersey boy could never hope to attain.

The two, who had met in L.A. the year before, shared a passion for workouts and old-time rock & roll. On May 9, when a Portland, Ore., radio station got a tip from a local florist that a wedding was set for May 15, the press descended on Phillips’ parents’ home in suburban Lake Oswego — -and waited. The Springsteen camp went into denial. ”As far as we’re concerned,” his agent said, ”there’s no wedding.” But the bride’s proud parents, who couldn’t resist answering reporters’ questions, confirmed the rumor.

When the couple decided they could not endure the press onslaught until the 15th, they secretly moved up their glory day. Shortly after midnight on May 13, once reporters had turned in for the night, the pair sneaked out to Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church in Lake Oswego and exchanged vows. Bruce’s manager, Jon Landau, and E Street bandmates Steve Van Zandt and Clarence Clemons served as best men.

A full-scale reception was held May 15, and among the attendees was a swarm of news helicopters. A befuddled Springsteen said, ”I do not believe or comprehend the world that I live in.”

Or, it later seemed, the married state he had entered. His 1987 album, Tunnel of Love, was full of songs not about love’s possibilities but about its limits. By June 1988 Springsteen was spotted on a tour nuzzling backup singer — and fellow Jerseyite — Patti Scialfa, 34, and a heartsick Phillips announced she and Bruce had separated. Following their 1989 divorce, Springsteen moved to L.A., married Scialfa, and fathered two children. Phillips, a star of NBC’s Sisters, hasn’t remarried. Though Springsteen has never spoken at length about the split, he admitted last year, ”I didn’t really know how to be a husband. She was a terrific person, but I just didn’t know how to do it.”

May 13, 1985
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