What Happened To Ernest Carter From The E Street Band?

When people talk about Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, the word "jazz" isn't typically bandied about. But one of their biggest hits, "Born To Run," from their 1975 album of the same name, owes significant thanks to the genre, via the chops of drummer Ernest "Boom" Carter. BruceSpringsteen.net states that keyboardist David Sancious suggested Carter, a childhood friend and a staple in the Asbury Park, New Jersey 1960s music scene, to replace former E-Street Band drummer Vini Lopez when he left in early 1974. The band was touring in support of their second album, "The Wild, The Innocent & the E Street Shuffle," and needed to keep the tour going.

Carter completed the tour and sat in briefly during early recording sessions for the band's third, iconic "Born To Run" album. The titular track is the only one on the record that Carter appears on, but his skill left a lasting mark. According to antiMusic, that track is unlike any other on the album, due to a particularly tricky, jazzy drum fill. Carter left the band in 1975, at just under a year of playing with them. When Max Weinberg stepped in to replace Carter, even he couldn't replicate the fill. In the documentary "Wings for Wheels," Weinberg said, "This one little lick that he played in the middle, that's on the record. I tried to play it. A very syncopated kind of jazz-fusion part. Finally, it just never came off right, so I eliminated it, and I've never played it."

Moving on from E Street

Carter and Sancious left the E Street Band together, in the early days of "Born To Run," to form their own jazz-fusion band called David Sancious and Tone, along with bassist Gerald Carboy. They went on to record five under-the-radar but critically-acclaimed records through 1979 (per ProgArchives), on which Carter plays multiple instruments and lends vocals.

According to a rundown on the website of Carter's musical colleague and recording client J.C. Flyer, Carter went on to play with many musicians in various roles, including Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Billy Squier, John Lee Hooker, Clarence Clemons and The Red Bank Rockers, Bonnie Raitt, and Shamika Copeland, to name just a few. Carter also released his own solo album in 2001, titled "Temple of Boom," on which he played all the instruments. He ran a San Leandro, California recording studio, also called Temple of Boom.

In October of 2019, Tone reunited for a concert at Monmouth University in New Jersey. Bob Santinelli, founding Executive Director of the Grammy Museum and author of "Greetings from E Street: The Story of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band," said of Tone (via the Monmouth website), "Tone was one of the great jazz bands from the Jersey Shore. Critics loved the band, but during the mid-1970's hype surrounding the release of "Born to Run," Tone didn't get the attention it deserved from Springsteen fans." You can view videos of the performance on the Ernest "Boom" Carter Fans Facebook page.