- Earned the nickname "Miami Steve" because of the tropical brightly colored clothes he favored as a young man.
- Played guitar and sang backup vocals for Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band from 1975 to 1984; rejoined the band after a world tour in 1999.
- Has twice been honored by the United Nations for his human-rights activism. Formed the all-star musical group Artists United Against Apartheid to record the single "Sun City" in 1985.
- Brother Billy married actress Adrienne Barbeau in 1992.
- Was cast in The Sopranos after series creator David Chase saw Van Zandt induct '60s hitmakers the Rascals into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.
- Backup band for the 1999 album Born Again Savage included U2's Adam Clayton on bass and Jason Bonham on drums.
- Created the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to history of rock and roll, in 2007.