Remembering ‘The Big Man’ Clarence Clemons
It was on June 18th, 2011, that Clarence Clemons, famed saxophone player for the E Street Band, passed away. He had suffered a stroke six days earlier.
Clemons was born in Virginia and was a promising football player, but days before a scheduled tryout with the Cleveland Browns, he was involved in a serious car accident, which ended his hopes of pursuing an athletic career. He was playing the Jersey Shore club circuit when he met Bruce Springsteen, supposedly during a storm when he broke the door entering the club where Bruce was performing. He got onstage and performed with him. Clarence has said that both he and Bruce both new right away that they had a special combination. Their first interaction was later immortalized in the song “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out".
He was a member of the E Street Band from then until his death playing on dozens of songs with classic solos on such classic Springsteen songs as “Born to Run” and “Jungleland”, as well as many, many others. He also performed on other people’s recordings (like Aretha Franklin’s “Freeway of Love") as well as his own side projects (he had a big hit in 1985, “You’re a Friend of Mine” with Jackson Browne). He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the E Street Band in 2014. Upon his death, Governor Christie ordered flags flown at half staff.
When giving his eulogy, Bruce said of his long time friend, "Clarence doesn’t leave the E Street Band when he dies. He leaves when we die.”
According to Rolling Stone, a documentary about the Big Man is due this summer.