Clarence Clemons, Springsteen’s E Street Band sax player, dies at 69
Monday, June 20, 2011
Florida hospital. The cause of death was complications from a stroke he had suffered a week ago at his home. He was 69., soulful saxophonist most famed for his forty years as a sideman in ‘s , died Saturday at a ,
Called the “Big Man” because of his 6-foot 5-inch frame, Clemons joined Springteen’s New Jersey band in 1972. For all but two years, he was the only black in the largely white, working class group, and became a key influence in Springsteen’s music as well as a trusted companion. He was a jovial on-stage presence and musically added to the band’s electric guitar sound and strong rhythms. According to the New York Times, he added “muscular, melodic saxophone that echoed , and early “. His rollicking saxophone solos were a signature sound for the E Street Band on songs such as , and .
He also released several solo albums and played with other bands and artists. He was featured on Bill Clinton at his first inaugural ball in 1993.‘s and duetted with on . Most recently, he played on ‘s latest album, . Additionally, he occasionally acted, appearing in such movies as ‘s and various TV shows including . He famously jammed with President
Clemons was born in Virginia on Jan. 11, 1942 and grew up in a religious environment, immersed in . He was drawn to rock ’n’ roll and received an as a Christmas gift when he was nine, but soon fell under the influence of (who played on the 1958 hit with the ) and moved to the . He said in an interview: “I got into the soul music, but I wanted to rock. I was a rocker. I was a born rock ‘n’ roll sax player.”,
Clemons was also a talented athlete and received a college scholarship for football and music, but he injured his knee in a car accident, ending any chances for a professional football career.
Springsteen said in a statement: “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.”
- Associated Press. “The Big Man, Sax Player Clarence Clemons Dies” — , June 19, 2011
- Ben Sisaro. “Clarence Clemons, Springsteen’s Soulful Sideman, Dies at 69” — , June 18, 2011
- Caryn Ganz. “Saxophonist Clarence Clemons Dead at 69” — , June 18, 2011
- “Bruce Springsteen’s Statement on Clarence Clemons Passing: ‘Loss is Immeasurable’” — , June 18, 2011