This blogpost was supposed to be a celebration of Clarence “Big Man” Clemons, as June 18th marked the 7th anniversary of his passing. As I started writing I realised rather quickly that it was also going to be a celebration of comradeship.
The story of how Clarence Clemons met Bruce Springsteen for the first time is a well known E Street Band myth (which also is portrayed in the song Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out).
The change was made uptown and the Big Man joined the band
According to the legend they met in September 1971, at the Student Prince, a bar in Asbury Park, NJ. Clemons came to the bar to check out a new talented musician (Bruce Springsteen) and when he opened the door to the club, the wind tore the door from its hinges and it blew north up Kingsley Street. Clemons walked up to the stage and asked if he could play and nobody was going to tell him no.
[warning: emotional video]
They felt an instant connection, as they played an early version of Spirit In The Night together. They just looked at each other and knew, knew that they were the missing links in each other’s lives – one of the greatest partnerships in rock ‘n’ roll and the rest is history.
Clarence Clemons was a brilliant saxophonist and a member of the E Street Band since 1972. Some of his most memorable Saxophone solos can be found in: Jungleland, Thunder Road, Badlands and Sherry Darling – songs that also happen to be among my favourites.
I’ve only seen Clemons in concert two times myself, in Gothenburg 2003 and 2008. In 2008 it was clear that Clemons had some health issues. He needed help to get on and off stage and he had a stool to sit on.
In an interview in Rolling Stones in February 2011 (only months before the stroke that would lead to his death) Clemons talked about his knees and hips replacements and living with constant pain. The last tour had been hell but he wouldn’t hesitate to go back on tour again. That was what kept him feeling alive and inspired.
Sadly Clarence Clemons is no longer with us but he’s still in our hearts and his legacy will live on forever. #2Big2Die
photo cred: Jamison Foser