Actor James Gandolfini had long been a big fan of Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, and the feeling was mutual, in particular for guitarist Steve Van Zandt, who worked closely with Gandolfini on “The Sopranos” in his role as mob lieutenant Silvio Dante.
So it was no surprise when Springsteen, Van Zandt and company played “Born to Run” Thursday night at their concert in Coventry, England, and dedicated it to Gandolfini, who died Wednesday of a heart attack at age 51 while vacationing in Rome.
Not just the song, but the entire album, which the E Streeters played in its entirety in the middle of their three-hour show.
Springsteen referred to Gandolfini, best known for his breakout performance as Mafia boss Tony Soprano, as “our great friend,” and Van Zandt earlier had released a statement saying, “I have lost a brother and a best friend. The world has lost one of the greatest actors of all time.”
Creator David Chase’s canny use of rock, pop, hip-hop, soul and jazz in “The Sopranos,” with help from producer Martin Bruestle and music editor Kathryn Dayak, was a hallmark of the show, and it was a high point of the first season when Springsteen’s “State Trooper” turned up in that season’s finale episode.
Van Zandt, who also had a hand in selecting recordings that were used, allowed the use of the song “Affection” by his group, Little Steven and the Boys during the third season.
Follow Randy Lewis on Twitter: @RandyLewis2Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times