The rock world shuddered when it recently learned that Bruce Springsteen, the Boss himself, had told the E Street Band its glory days were over—at least for now. Reportedly, he phoned all seven band members and told them to "feel free to pursue other things," as their services would not be needed for his next LP or tour.

After six albums and 15 years of touring and friendship, was the Boss giving E Streeters—one of rock's greatest ensembles—a permanent pink slip? With whom would he replace such stellar musicians as saxophonist Clarence demons, who already has his own solo recording career, with three albums? (Little Steven Van Zandt, who left the group in 1984, has also put out three discs of his own.) And whither Patti Scialfa, backup singer and main squeeze? The silence from Springsteen's spokesmen did nothing to calm his worried public. Still, there is a bit of good news from E Street drummer Max Weinberg, who has been with Bruce since 1974. He insists, "Bruce did not say anything about disbanding"—leaving open the possibility the group may one day re-form. But, he adds, "You have to prepare for the unexpected."

If the E Street band really is shuffling off the scene, Weinberg claims he won't be bitter. "I'm way ahead of the game," he says. "The real world of being a musician is not like being in the E Street Band. We've gone from driving around in [bassist] Garry Tallent's Chevy to where we are now. I come from the school of music where a job lasts two weeks."

Speaking of school, Weinberg—who dropped out of college in '74 to join the Boss—plans to do more cramming than jamming in the coming months. Since last year, he's been attending Seton Hall University in New Jersey full time. Expecting to graduate in December with a degree in communications, Weinberg says his next gig might well be law school.

"Like I said, you have to be prepared for the unexpected," says Weinberg of the band's future. "But Yogi Berra put it best: It ain't over 'til it's over."