The Big Man Who Blew Us Awayby J-Stacknik
The big man saxophonist who helped give Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band its signature sound, especially during the 80′s Born in the USA days, Clarence Clemons has died at the age of 69. He suffered a stroke on June 12, 2011 and died of complications from the stroke on June 18th, 2011. Clemons’ was a member of the E Street Band for over three decades as well as fronting his own band Temple of Soul. Clarence also released several solo albums and in 1985 had a hit single with You’re a Friend of Mine, a duet with Jackson Browne. He also performed live as part of the Jerry Garcia Band and Ringo Starr’s All Star Band. Over the years he recorded with artists such as Aretha Franklin, Jackson Browne, and Roy Orbison.
Clarence also wrote a book detailing his time in the E Street Band titled Big Man: Real Life & Tall Tales. He has also appeared in TV shows including The Tracey Ullman Show, The Wire, and My Wife and Kids. He also recently contributed saxophone to two tracks from Lady Gaga’s latest album, Born This Way. In a March Google interview Gaga stated this song was written about impending death, “your last moment on earth, the moment of truth, that moment just before you leave the earth.”
A funeral for Clemons was held June 24, 2011. Held in Florida at a small church, the funeral was small and private, attended by some of Clarence’s closest friends and family, including Bruce Springsteen and fellow musician Jackson Browne.
According to reports, Springsteen delivered a moving eulogy about the big man. He and the attending members of the E Street Band had a short performance of the song Tenth Avenue Freeze Out, a song that is supposedly about how Bruce and the big man met.
Clarence’s son played “Amazing Grace” and Jackson Browne played some of Clarence’s songs.
At Clarence’s request his ashes were scattered at his most treasured beach in Hawaii, where the ashes of his ex-wives were also scattered. His reasoning for this was that he wanted to be with “all of the special women in his life”.
Many artists honored Clemons, including Eddie Vedder, who dedicated the Pearl Jam song “Better Man” to him; Phish, who covered Thunder Road at a show; and U2, who recited the lyrics of Jungleland during one of their songs.