The "Big Man," saxophonist Clarence Clemons of the E Street Band, died on Saturday in a hospital in Palm Beach, Fla., from complications of a stroke he suffered last Sunday. He was 69.

Bruce Springsteen said Clemons loved their fans and gave his all every night on stage. “Clarence lived a wonderful life. He carried within him a love of people that made them love him,” he said in a statement on his website. “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.”

Throughout the weekend, hundreds of fans gathered at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, the famous New Jersey rock club where the E Street Band members first performed together. As word spread about Clemons’ death, tributes poured in thick and fast. Filmmaker Michael Moore tweeted about an “unforgettable” day in 1994 that he spent “cruising round NJ w/ him,” while U2’s Bono said to the crowd at their Anaheim, Calif., show on Saturday, “I want you to think about a beautiful symphonic sound that came out of one man's saxophone.”

But perhaps the most fitting farewell came from Springsteen, who released a statement that said, “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.”

Clemons played with Springsteen for over 40 years on songs including "Born To Run," "Jungleland," "Bandlands," and "The Promised Land," among others. Clemons soon became the most recognizable member of the group and Springsteen’s foil onstage.

He was born in Norfolk, Virgina, in 1942 and met Springsteen at Asbury Park, N.J. bar during a lightning storm in 1971. He became a member of the E Street Band the following year when Springsteen started working on his debut album. Before he joined the E Street Band, Clemons was an athlete, whose chance at a professional football career was ended by a car accident in 1968. Clemons then moved to Newark, N.J. and worked as a youth counselor for troubled kids. Outside of the E Street Band, he duetted with Jackson Browne and Aretha Franklin. He even dabbled in acting, starring on Diff'rent Strokes, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and The Wire.

Clemons was married five times and had four sons – Clarence III, Charles, Christopher and Jarod.

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1 Comments

  • Sydney Ramsden
    Sydney Ramsden on

    It's sad to see Clemons pass away so soon and so suddenly, especially since he was very recently seen in Lady Gaga's video for The Edge of Glory. I'm curious to see how the E Street Band will pay tribute to him in future shows and recordings.

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