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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Bruce Springsteen stands with Freehold business after ‘disgusting’ Donald Trump deal

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Bruce Springsteen in Freehold

Bruce Springsteen greets fans at the Barnes and Noble bookstore in Freehold to promote the release of his new book,”Born to Run,” in 2016.

Bob Bielk, Asbury Park Press

Bruce Springsteen is not happy about what Donald Trump did to a Freehold business.

Specifically, the Freehold Music Center on Route 9, where Springsteen took guitar lessons as kid when it was located on South Street in Freehold. Trump bought eight pianos for $100,000 in 1989 for his Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, but he stiffed owner Michael Diehl on the deal, Diehl has previously stated.


Springsteen brought up the crooked case on the Wednesday, Sept. 15, edition of his SiriusXM deejay show, “From My Home to Yours.” The theme of the show was “Money Honey.”

“As a child, I took lessons at Mike Diehl’s music school on South Street,” said Springsteen while introducing the song “Money Grabber” by Fitz and the Tantrums. “Mr. Diehl had a lovely little school. Nothing too big. Came out of a small ’50s-style ranch house and made a nice living there.”

The business eventually moved down to its current location on Route 9 north in Freehold Township.

Trump’s involvement

“Some years later come, Donald Trump is building one of his damn casinos down in Atlantic City,” Springsteen said. “Orders a bunch of pianos from my friend Mr. Diehl and of course, refuses to pay for them. Now, for Mr. Diehl, hundreds of thousands of dollars in pianos is a lot of (f——) pianos, and a lot of (f——) money. That this bastard held out on this small-town music school owner, and finally agreed to pay him something like six on the dollar, was disgusting and it really hurt Mr. Diehl at the time. That was basically … that was the money that he made for the entire year.”

The Taj Mahal offered Diehl three options for payment: take 70 cents on the dollar; wait until the casino was profitable; or force it into bankruptcy and get pennies on the dollar, according to a previous USA Today Network New Jersey story.


“I had no other choice but to swallow the bitter pill (and take the $70,000),” said Diehl in 2016 interview prior to the presidential election which Trump won.

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“At that time, $30,000 was a lot more than it is today. I tightened my belt and had little money to spend on my kids and my food and my clothes,” said Diehl. “I’m very concerned now, if (Trump) does that kind of business with a small business and he takes advantage of people … he cares less about the average worker.”

Song dedication

Springsteen dedicated “Money Grabber” to Trump. 

“So I’m going to dedicate this one to that (blanker) that’s sitting down in Mar-a-Lago, Fla., right now, sucking on his shrimp scampi and lying to the rest of the nation,” Springsteen said. “He’s just a goddamn money grabber.”


Diehl and the Trump Organization did not respond to requests for comments by press time.

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Springsteen knows what it’s like to be broke, he said. 

Before he became a rock ‘n’ roll star, he didn’t have enough money to get into the Lincoln Tunnel, he said while introducing the song “Broke” by Teddy Swims. He was riding into the city to pick up $30 from former manager Mike Appel, he said. 

“When I got to the Lincoln Tunnel, the kind lady wouldn’t let me through because after she busted open my last roll of 100 pennies, the last money I had on the planet, she found one Canadian penny!” Springsteen said. “And 99 cents, my friend, will not get you into New York City! In the day, you needed a full dollar or you’re turning around! And that’s exactly what she told me to do. ‘Turn this car around, sir, you don’t have a dollar.’”


Turning a car around at the entrance Lincoln Tunnel is not an easy proposition.

“So I got out of that car with a cacophony of horns blaring behind me, for the (blank) that was going on where I was, and I searched that car inside out,” Springsteen said. “I took my time till I found, somewhere beneath the back seat, one American cent and I took it between my thumb and my finger and I dropped it into her hand and she slapped it down on that metal desk.

“New York was mine! I had the dollar. But damn, that was broke.”

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Sept. 15 setlist

“Money Honey” by Wanda Jackson


“Money on Straight” by The Killers

“Mr. Dollar” by Wynonie Harris

“Rich Man” by Vampire Weekend

“Money Grabber” by Fitz and the Tantrums

“Money Won’t Change You” by James Brown


“Money” by Barbara Lynn

“Money” by Cardi B

“Easy Money” by Bruce Springsteen

“I’m Your Bread Maker, Baby” by Slim Harpo

“Dead Presidents” by Little Walter


“Broke” by Teddy Swims

“Money Back Guarantee” by Max Falcon

“Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” by Bing Crosby

“Savin’ Up” by Clarence Clemons and the Red Bank Rockers

Subscribe to app.com for the latest on Bruce Springsteen and the Jersey music scene.   


Chris Jordan, a Jersey Shore native, covers entertainment and features for the USA Today Network New Jersey. Contact him at @chrisfhjordan; [email protected]

Source: Asbury Park


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