Ernest “Boom” Carter was, along with his childhood friend, David Sancious, an active member of the Asbury Park music scene centered around the Upstage club and its legendary after-hours jam sessions. There he got to know other musicians, particularly future E Street bassist Garry Tallent and his high school friend, harmonica player “Southside” Johnny Lyon. The quartet decamped for Richmond, Virginia, following the Asbury Park race riots in 1970, where they worked as session musicians.
In 1972, Sancious (who had played in some of Springsteen’s early groups) was invited to play keyboards on his first record, Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J., and he returned to New Jersey (as did Bruce Springsteen Band alumnus Garry Tallent). Carter moved to Atlanta, and worked with a local band there. In early 1974, Sancious contacted Carter and asked him if he was interested in joining the E Street Band, since previous drummer Vini Lopez had recently left and the band needed to keep touring to support Springsteen’s second album, The Wild, The Innocent & the E Street Shuffle.
Carter was a natural choice, given that he was already acquainted with Springsteen and the rest of the E Street Band from his time in Asbury Park, and after a hurried audition and two days of rehearsal, came on board. He remained with the E Street Band for a little less than a year: through the end of the tour and into the beginning of the studio sessions for Born to Run. Carter left of his own volition when he decided to join David Sancious and left the E Street Band in order to form a jazz-rock fusion group called Tone (whose lineup later included a local singer named Patti Scialfa).