The Boss’s trusty sideman has many plans – from saving central America to TV Hogmanay at the Playboy Mansion – and he’s more than happy to share his rock wisdom

It is the middle of the 1980s, and Stevie Van Zandt, having departed the E Street Band and left Bruce Springsteen’s side, is pursuing a solo career. He has also parlayed decades of experience playing in bar bands into a new and unusual role: international activist and campaigner against injustice. And so he finds himself, in company with Jackson Browne, in Nicaragua, against which the US is waging a proxy war.

He arranges a meeting with Rosario Murillo, the wife of Nicaragua’s president, Daniel Ortega, as he notes in his memoir, Unrequited Infatuations. “After a few drinks, I moved off the small talk and suddenly asked her if she loved her husband. She was taken a bit aback but said, Yes, señor, very much. ‘Well,’ I said, ‘you should spend as much time with him as possible, because he’s a dead man walking. It’s just a matter of time and time is running out’ … She was a very smart woman married to a revolutionary. But she was expecting a pleasant conversation about the arts, and the reality of what I was saying hit her hard.”

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