Clarence Clemons, the legendary saxophonist in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, died Saturday at a hospital in Palm Beach at the age of 69. The cause was complications from a stroke he suffered last Sunday. According to reports, he had undergone two brain surgeries while hospitalized but had taken a turn for the worse in recent days. Clemons was a 40-year member of the band, first appearing on Springsteen’s debut album, 1973’s Greetings From Asbury Park. Since then he never missed an E Street gig, last appearing with them in December of 2010.
The 6 feet 4 inches college football player earned the nickname “The Big Man” because he towered Springsteen and was noticeably the only black member of an all-white band from New Jersey. Clemons also made a name for himself acting in Martin Scorsese’s film “New York, New York” and other films. He also played saxophone with President Bill Clinton during his 1993 inauguration. In 1985 he had a Top 20 hit with “You’re A Friend Of Mine” on which he sang with Jackson Browne and played on records for Aretha Franklin and most recently working with Lady Gaga and appearing in her stripped-down, 80’s homage video “Edge of Glory”.
His longtime friend Bruce Springsteen has released this statement via Rolling Stone Magazine:
“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.”
Lady Gaga also tweeted messages of support and got her fans to create video messages encouraging his recovery once the news of Clarence’s illness had surfaced.
Clarence was married five times and divorced four. He is survived by his wife, Victoria, and four sons: Clarence Jr., Charles, Christopher and Jarod.
Rest peacefully, Big Man…