“The Fever” was recorded on June 23, 1973, or possibly May 16, 1973 (according to 18 Tracks booklet) at 914 Studios (although, long rumored to have been recorded at WGOE Studios in Richmond, VA) as a publishing demo for Laurel Canyon Music.
The song was originally written in 1971 by Bruce Springsteen, this is a fact supported by the lyric sheet (titled “Fever for the Girl”), which is dated and is on display in the Hard Rock Cafe, Sydney Australia.
The lyrics on this sheet are an exact match. Mike Appel or Columbia executives “officially leaked” copies of the song, in tape form, of this recording to many radio stations.
It was debuted live on March 10, 1974 at Liberty Hall in Houston, TX, although it was performed the previous day on KLOL radio in Houston in an acoustic version. Played with Southside Johnny at three guest appearances in 1976 and 1977 and finally revived in Bruce’s own set on July 15, 1978 at Hofheinz Pavilion in Houston, TX where he played it often during August and December of that year.
“The Fever” was Played for the last time January 1, 1979 at Richfield Coliseum in Cleveland. “The Fever” is a nearly eight-minute soulful ballad recorded, and performed in concert as late as 1978. The studio recording of the song was even sent to a few radio stations in the mid-’70s that were early supporters of Bruce
Southside Johnny eventually cut a version of his friend’s song for his 1976 debut, I Don’t Want To Go Home. The recording by Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes was released on the Cover Me compilation album in 1989.
Finally, Bruce’s version is officially released in 1999 on 18 Tracks. Rehearsed during soundchecks for the 1999 / 2000 reunion tour, but performed only one time on the reunion tour on September 24, 1999 in Philadelphia, PA. It has also been recorded by Dean Ford, The Pointer Sisters, and Alan Rich.
The song made a surprise appearance on May 27, 2001at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ, where Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes were celebrating the 25th anniversary of their legendary 1976 radio broadcast at the Stone Pony. After being left out of the set for the entire The Rising tour, the song is finally performed with Southside Johnny at The Hope Concert for Robert Bandiera, Jr. on April 29, 2003 at Count Basie Theater in Red Bank, NJ.
It’s again played during both shows for the Holiday at Harry’s Roadhouse in Asbury Park, NJ on December 19, 2004. The early show was performed as a duet with Southside Johnny, while the late show featured Bruce alone on vocal. In a benefit show for the Rumson Country Day School on April 10, 2005 at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ, Bruce performed the song again… this time as a duet with Southside Johnny.
The song is placed in the set only one time during the Devils & Dust tour, on October 20, 2005 Worcester, MA. On the Working on a Dream tour, the song is played only one time, on April 28, 2009 at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, PA. Finally, a live recording of the song is released as part of The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story, 3 CD / 3 DVD set.
It’s included on DVD #3- Thrill Hill Vault- Houston ’78 Bootleg House Cut, a never before seen concert recorded at The Summit in Houston, TX on December 8, 1978, which was released on November 16, 2010. Although the song was not played on the tour, proper, Bruce did play “The Fever” in a four-song pre-show, acoustic set on April 29, 2013, in Oslo, Norway, at the coaxing of, and with the help from members of the audience.