Nils Lofgren

For much of his professional rock & roll career, Nils Lofgren has been known as the lead guitarist for Bruce Springsteen's E-Street Band -- the guy who replaced Steven Van Zandt in 1984 and stayed on after Little Steven returned to the fold. Prior to the E-Street Band, Lofgren was a member of Neil Young's backing band Crazy Horse, and these associations have tended to dominate any mention of the guitarist's career, as any support for two legendary singer/songwriters would. But take away Bruce and Neil from Lofgren's résumé and he has an impressive, idiosyncratic cache in his own right, starting with the records he made with Grin, an acclaimed but underappreciated band from the late '60s, running through his own compositions with Crazy Horse and then on a series of solo recordings that started with 1975's eponymous debut. Anchored with "Keith Don't Go," a tribute to the Rolling Stones guitarist that stands as one of rock's great love letters, that record earned good reviews but his subsequent Cry Tough (1976), I Came to Dance (1977), and Night After Night (1977) performed better on the album rock charts, laying the foundation for a discography that stretched well into the new millennium, consisting of records made during downtime for the E-Street Band, or even when the group was in full force.