Josh Tanner Might Be The Greatest Fake Boss of All Time
Every year, the Hangar, the Orange County Fair's secondary live music venue, becomes a certified Valhalla of tribute bands. Fans of acts like Journey, Prince and Depeche Mode routinely shell out $16 to watch some very talented and very capable musicians pay homage to the artists they adore. But it's doubtful that those talented pretenders who channel Abba, the Eagles or David Bowie have as surreal a story involving their particular muse as does Josh Tanner, who performs tonight as the frontman of Springsteen! The Ultimate Tribute to the Boss.
Tanner, a longtime vet of the Southern California music scene, has never formally met Springsteen. But three years ago, two years into his tribute to the Boss, he was backstage at a his show at the L.A. Sports Arena. Looking like he'd stepped off the cover of 1975's Born to Run, complete with the leather jacket and wharf rat-like hirsuteness,Tanner was just hoping to get an up-close-and-personal sighting of his longtime musical idol. What he got was a lot more than he expected.
"There were about 100 people back there, lots of celebrities and that, but as he was walking off-stage after his last song, he walked right up to me and said, 'You, you're the one. You're the guy,' and he just stared at me, way past the point where you want to turn your eyes away," Tanner recounts.
"But I just took all that mojo in. I was shaking but his energy and charisma were so strong I just knew I had to take it all in. I don't know if he was really tired and delirious from the show, or maybe he'd heard of me through my website and just knew I was keeping the fire alive, but it was really odd," Tanner says. "Security came up and I thought they were going to take me away but then he just turned away and walked into his dressing room. He didn't acknowledge anyone else."
"I don't know why he did that but the next night, we were playing the House of Blues in San Diego and that was the first time I felt all of him coming through me, singing. It was none of me. So I do think I took some of his mojo. He got into me and he gave me that extra little boost to give me that breakthrough. Now there are nights when I'm onstage when I turn him on and I don't even know it's me up there."
Whether possessed by Springsteen, highly susceptible or just a weirdo, the fact remains that when you see Tanner do his Bossy thing, you can't help but be transported back to the early days of the E Street Band. He looks, moves and sounds like Springsteen and he's pretty much the next best thing to seeing the real guy in the flesh. We decided to sit down with him to talk about his quest to become the greatest fake boss of all time.