Springsteen wrote this in memory of Elvis Presley, who died on August 16, 1977. Springsteen was a huge fan of Elvis, and in concerts stated that seeing him on TV as a 9-year-old boy marked his life, claiming, "I Wanna Be Just Like That." Weight problems and drugs took their toll on Elvis, who died alone in his bathroom - an inglorious end that made Springsteen contemplate the fate of a rock star when life stops being glamorous.
Springsteen performed this several times and in different versions during the River and Born in the USA tours. It was released on Tracks in 1998.
Suggestion credit: Szabo - Oradea, Romania, for above 2
Leo from Westminster 1, MdJohnny Bye Bye is one of the saddest pieces I've heard Springsteen write. Bruce tells the story of a king-let's call him Elvis shall we?- who dies a terrible, selfish and inglorious death that is wholly unnecessary. Presley was one of those figureheads who had it all and lost it and Spring tells it with a sad and unflinching honesty. Michael Jackson suffered the same fate 32 years later. Both of them could not be saved from their own private hell. Presley and Jackson did not have to die!