Clarence Clemons, The Big Man, along with Bruce Springsteen himself the heart and soul of Springsteen's sound. He's gone, passed away Saturday, June 18, from complications from a stroke he suffered on June 12. He was 69, and that's just too damned young!
The Boss and The Big Man were musical soul mates; they both believed that and said so publicly. Of their original meeting Clarence said this:
One night we were playing in Asbury Park. I'd heard The Bruce Springsteen Band was nearby at a club called The Student Prince and on a break between sets I walked over there. On-stage, Bruce used to tell different versions of this story but I'm a Baptist, remember, so this is the truth. A rainy, windy night it was, and when I opened the door the whole thing flew off its hinges and blew away down the street. The band were on-stage, but staring at me framed in the doorway. And maybe that did make Bruce a little nervous because I just said, "I want to play with your band," and he said, "Sure, you do anything you want." The first song we did was an early version of "Spirit In The Night". Bruce and I looked at each other and didn't say anything, we just knew. We knew we were the missing links in each other's lives. He was what I'd been searching for. In one way he was just a scrawny little kid. But he was a visionary. He wanted to follow his dream. So from then on I was part of history.
And Springsteen said this in a public press release on Clarence's death:
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 music will never be the same, so much so that many are wondering now if the E Street Band will go on, or if Springsteen will go back to playing solo. Certainly there will never again be any moments like this:
Nor will there be any more experiences like this:
Rest in peace, Big Man. That proverbial band in heaven just got a helluva lot better!