In the world of music, the word “legendary” gets bandied about with such numbing regularity that it’s practically meaningless. There are, however, a few musicians to whom it can be rightfully applied. Clarence Clemons, known to fans and friends as “The Big Man,” was one of those people. His distinctive sound was a part of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street band for almost four decades.
Clarence Clemons, left, with Bruce Springsteen
Reflecting on Clemons’ death, Springsteen issued the following 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.”
The Huffington Post reports that Clarence Clemons remained remarkably active in recent years, despite health problems that required knee replacement and spinal fusion surgery. Even though he arrived at the 2009 Super Bowl in a wheelchair, he managed to stand for his performance with Bruce Springsteen. Over his long career, the 6′ 5″ musician also performed with the Grateful Dead, the Jerry Garcia Band, and Ringo Starr’s All Star Band, and had cameo roles in several films and TV shows. Most recently he appeared the Lady Gaga video, Edge of Glory.
Clemons was the oldest member of the E Street Band. His passing leaves our world a little bit emptier. Upstairs, however, among the clouds, it’s a fair bet that there’s good rockin’ tonight.
Photo credit: The New York Daily News