By JOSEPH SAPIA
In 1979, hired by Bruce Springsteen, Joel Bernstein spent days with the rock and roller, shooting photographs of him.
One is an iconic black-and-white shot – Springsteen dressed in light-colored long pants and a dark-colored T-shirt standing on the Asbury Park Boardwalk. The Boardwalk’s herringbone pattern is covered with rain. The Empress hotel is in the near background, the Palace arcade in the far background.
“To Joel,” Springsteen wrote on a copy of the photo he gave to Bernstein, “Who was that girl?” and signed it.
Springsteen is referring to the woman in the photo’s background, half-seated, half-standing on a 10-speed bicycle, leaning into a telephone booth.
“She adds an element of mystery,” Bernstein said.
Years later, probably sometime in the 1980s, Annmarie Solimini Adderley was looking through Springsteen’s boxed album, “Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band Live 1975-1985” and saw the photograph.
Earlier this year, the photograph – also used in a Springsteen advertisement for his “The River” album and as the sleeve cover of the “Hungry Heart” single – was being discussed on a Facebook page for Springsteen fans.
“People were commenting if this girl ever claimed her fame,” said Adderley, who was 19 when the photo was taken. “My girlfriend emailed me, ‘They’re talking about you.’”
After a bit of a search, she found the correct photographer, Bernstein, and reached out to him.
“He said, ‘I’ve waited 36 years to find out who you were,’” Adderley said.
Bernstein, based in Oakland, Calif., said he confirmed it was Adderley through her answers. She said it was a telephone booth she used “all the time” to talk to her friends back home in Hudson County. She did not recognize Springsteen, she did not notice a photographer taking pictures, she was wearing Jordache jean bellbottoms and a blue sweater, using her common means of transportation.
At that time, according to Adderley, “I had heard about this guy Bruce Springsteen.” Now, according to her, “I’m his biggest fan,” figuring she has seen him perform about 30 or so times.
“She just came wheeling into the shot,” said Bernstein, recalling Adderley was cycling from the direction of Convention Hall and toward the Casino, arcing in to the right behind Springsteen to the phone booth. “We didn’t see her face, she doesn’t park the bike. It’s sort of a cas(ual) thing a schoolkid would do, a younger person. It’s not that common.”
“I thought it was really good, right away,” said Bernstein, who, then, shot three more photos of the scene, these three in color and recently re-discovered, before she cycled off after only a minute or two.
The phone booth once stood at the side of what is today’s Stella Marina Bar and Restaurant..
In May, Adderley received a copy of the photograph from Bernstein, him writing on it, “Bruce Springsteen and Annmarie Adderley, the mystery girl at the phone booth. …Thank you so much.”
In a letter, Bernstein added, “This print is my gift to you after all these years for inadvertently bicycling into my frame and serendipitously adding a degree of depth and mystery that I could never have come up with on my own.”
Now, the photograph-gift from Bernstein is being mounted at the Ocean Park Gallery in Asbury Park.