Bruce Springsteen, a bachelor at the pinnacle of his commercial success a year after the release of “Born in the U.S.A.,” stirred up his legions of fans and the residents of Lake Oswego by marrying model and actress Julianne Phillips in a midnight ceremony in 1985, followed by a reception on a five-acre estate in Tualatin.
The marriage was over within four years. “I didn’t protect Juli,” Springsteen stated in the 2012 biography, “Bruce.” Phillips is quoted in the book as saying, “The one and only thing I will say is that the period was a time of incredible growth and introspection for me. And I will forever give that credit to Bruce.”
Paparazzi pacing outside the Phillips’ family home and Julianne’s parents ordering pizza to feed them was 37 years ago.
And yet the Boss’ marriage is part of the marketing materials for the Tualatin estate where the reception was held and which is now for sale.
The residential compound at 21797 S.W. Oak Hill Lane was quietly listed for sale on April 13 and received an accepted offer five days later.
The asking price: $2,488,888.
“This property has a lot to offer in terms of amenities,” said Steve Nassar of Premiere Property Group on May 5, soon after the listing was made public. “The icing on the cake will be the storied past of this property and (the new owners’) excitement about being able to share this incredible piece of history with their friends and family every time they entertain.”
The Boss’ first wedding
The singer, songwriter and musician from the Jersey Shore, who rose to worldwide fame with his working class anthems and whose 1988 concert performance in East Germany has been credited with helping to topple the Berlin Wall, married Phillips seven months after they were introduced by their agents.
Word of the ceremony was reportedly spilled to Springsteen fans and followers by a local florist, prompting a Springsteen frenzy: journalists waited for a sighting in the Phillips family driveway, and the radio station KKRZ established a “Springsteen rumor hotline.”
Vows were exchanged on May 13, two days earlier than planned, at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church in Lake Oswego.
The Los Angeles Times reported just 40 guests headed to the church in a caravan after discreetly gathering at a local high school. Springsteen had three “best men” at his side: manager Jon Landau and bandmates Steven Van Zandt and the late Clarence Clemons.
“The children wanted to get married without all the confusion,” Phillips’ mother, Ann, told UPI at the time. “Oh, my goodness, now I’m going to get into trouble. I shouldn’t be talking to you.”
“They wanted a church wedding, along with all the goodies,” her father, William, added in a TV news interview. “She had a beautiful wedding gown and Bruce had his tux on.”
The two separated in 1988 before their third wedding anniversary and were divorced the next year.
By then, Springsteen and bandmate Patti Scialfa were already a public item, captured by a photographer during some tender moments in a Rome stop on the “Tunnel of Love Express” tour.
“I didn’t really know how to be a husband,” Springsteen told Rolling Stone magazine in 1992. Phillips “was a terrific person, but I just didn’t know how to do it.”
Springsteen, one of the world’s best-selling music artists, performed in Portland in 2016, 2012, 2008, 2005 and at the Moda Center Rose Garden in 2002 where he told the crowd, “You have a nice town here.”
“I was married here once myself,” he continued, according to the Brucebase concert archive. “Nice little spot … very, very long time ago.”
The Tualatin estate
The 5.5-acre compound at 21797 S.W. Oak Hill Lane with views of Mount Hood has a main house and a detached guest house, for a total of 6,904 square feet of living space.
There is also a landscaped backyard, “the location of Bruce Springsteen’s wedding reception in 1985,” according to marketing materials, that “is ideal for entertaining with unique landscaping and numerous fruit trees and bushes.”
A circular driveway leads to the single-level main house, which was custom built in 1984 and has a large, octagonal-shaped living room with a wood-burning fireplace as well as a formal dining room. The kitchen is equipped with an antique Lange Westwood wood-burning stove and the wine cellar has a painted floor and mural.
The primary bedroom suite with a gas fireplace, two additional bedrooms, two more bathrooms and a powder room complete the main house.
The self-contained accessory dwelling unit (ADU) has a living area with a gas fireplace, full kitchen, a bedroom and a bathroom plus a deck.
“The buyer of this home would be someone who is looking to stretch out a bit,” said Nassar. “They will be about 10 minutes from Lake Oswego and about 20 minutes away from Downtown Portland, while enjoying the feeling of being tucked away in the country.”
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.