Clarence Clemons, saxophone player for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, died on June 18th after complications from a stroke. He was 69.
Clemons was beloved by fans for his lyrical sax work, and his ability to make a “big” impression in only a few bars. Perhaps his greatest solo, in a discography full of them, is the moving coda to “Jungleland,” Born To Run‘s epic closing track. The Norfolk, Virginia native and former college football offensive lineman met Bruce Springsteen on the boardwalk in Asbury Park, New Jersey in 1971. Springsteen would later recall their meeting in mythical terms during live monologues. The Born To Run song “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” contains references to Clemons’ entry into the band.
Clemons is also known for his 1985 hit single with Jackson Browne, “You’re A Friend Of Mine,” as well as his acting roles in New York, New York and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. He published his autobiography Big Man: Real Life and Tall Tales in 2009. Clemons also collaborated with pop superstar Lady Gaga on her latest album, Born This Way.
Clemons is the second member of the E Street Band to pass away — organist Danny Federici died in 2008 of melanoma. He will be sorely missed, but the music lives on.
Bruce Springsteen released the following statement on his web site:
Clarence lived a wonderful life. He carried within him a love of people that made them love him. He created a wondrous and extended family. He loved the saxophone, loved our fans and gave everything he had every night he stepped on stage. His loss is immeasurable and we are honored and thankful to have known him and had the opportunity to stand beside him for nearly forty years. He was my great friend, my partner, and with Clarence at my side, my band and I were able to tell a story far deeper than those simply contained in our music. His life, his memory, and his love will live on in that story and in our band.
Share your favorite Clarence Clemons memories and moments in the comments.