Frank Ridgeway says he became a high school teacher in Vineland. However, the exterior shots are from the Vineland Developmental Center, East Campus. This is a New Jersey State School for the mentally challenged, still in operation today.
The Palace of Depression was a real place in Vineland, New Jersey. A homeless drifter built it out of junk, sand and clay, then charged admission for visitors. Vandals destroyed the Palace after his death, but the original ticket booth still stands. Vineland is currently trying to rebuild the Palace of Depression.
The Fender Stratocaster guitar used by Michael Paré as Eddie Wilson in the concert scenes formerly belonged to John Lyon, a technical consultant for the film. Lyon is better known as Southside Johnny Lyon, leader of the New Jersey shore band the Asbury Jukes, and longtime friend and frequent collaborator of Bruce Springsteen.
Eddie Wilson says they played at Fairleigh Ridiculous up in Madison. This was a reference to the school Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, New Jersey. Fairleigh Ridiculous was a nickname for the university.
Tony Mart's was an actual place in New Jersey from the 1950s to the early 1980s. The building was demolished in the early 1980s, and a new building currently stands on a different area of the property.
As Frank Ridgeway pulls into his school's parking lot, he hears the end of one of the Cruisers songs and the DJ announcing their music which is becoming popular. The announcer is New York DJ Scott Muni. He also announces the call letters for WNEW-FM, the station where he was a broadcaster for almost 20 years. However, it is geographically inaccurate and WNEW-FM was virtually unreceivable in Vineland, New Jersey due to the distance from its New York City transmitter.
Rick Springfield lobbied for the role of Eddie Wilson, but director Martin Davidson who had purchased the rights to the novel didn't think he could be convincing as anyone other than himself. While he "might have been great" in the role, Davidson said, "he wouldn't have spanned the history" of the missing musician.
Spoiler - When Frank returns to his mobile home, he finds the place has been completely ransacked. The phone has been knocked to the floor, but the receiver managed to stay hung-up on base. It appears as if Doc left it in this condition since he knew he would be calling Frank and had to make sure the call was received.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
"A Season in Hell" is the title of a prose poem written by the French poet, Arthur Rimbaud, which Frank Ridgeway is reading in a paperback book. Frank quotes a line from the poem to illustrate the concept of a caesura, a meaningful pause. Rimbaud searched for and achieved a new style of literary expression. Rimbaud wrote "A Season in Hell" during April-August, 1873. He completely stopped writing at the age of 21, after assembling one of his major works, "Les Illuminations" in 1874. He traveled and worked at various jobs until he became ill in February 1891. He died in November 1891 from bone cancer. Like Rimbaud, Eddie Wilson pioneers a new musical style in his album "A Season in Hell" and then completely stopped making music until 20 years later when he is rediscovered and appreciated.