Clarence Clemons, 69, who played saxophone with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band for nearly forty years, died last night after having a stroke last weekend at his home in Singer Island, Florida, (a community I regularly haunted -- drunk -- back in the late sixties).
I won't lie. I was never a rocker. And for whatever reason, I thought Bruce was way too White for me. But you couldn't be in my generation and not know Clarence Clemons played sax.
And now, the Big Man (as he was often called because of his 6'5", 270 pound frame), has played his last solo.
He felt so strongly about his relationship to Bruce and the Band that he went so far as to try to explain how it felt to be so bonded to a group of men in a patriarchal society, where it's not socially acceptable to talk about loving men or feeling one with them so the words don't come easily and the fear of being misunderstood almost makes the speech sad. But Big Man tried and out of respect for his attempt, rather than just featuring his famous solo in the song "Jungleland," I've chosen to include the whole song (filmed during a performace in Great Britain just two years ago), so we can watch him doing what he loved to do with those he loved to do it with.
Springsteen said this morning: "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."
Rest in peace, Big Man.