So I was thinking…about Clarence Clemons. I woke up this morning to the sad news that the “Big Man” Clarence Clemons had died. I feel like I’ve lost a friend…crazy you may say, but it’s not. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band have been a part of my life for nearly 30 years! I’ve said it time and again that the Springsteen fan base is like a huge family, and that is true. I’m sure there are many out there this morning that can’t even imagine “Scooter” without the “Big Man.”
Clarence had been with Bruce since September of 1971…I was 6 years old. They met for the first time at a club in Asbury Park, NJ. As the legend has been told over the years, the door to the club “lifted off and blew off down the street as a large shadow of a man stepped into the back room beside the band. He walked to the stage and said, ‘I wanna play with you.’ What could I say? I said ‘sure.'”—Bruce
Bruce had a routine of stringing a long list of nicknames to Clarence’s name when he introduced the band during a concert…”Prince of the City”, the “Big Kahuna”, the “Duke of Paducah”, and who can forget the popular “King of the World,” “Master of the Universe”…do I have to say his name?” It was an anticipated moment at every concert and man was it fun screaming out the answer…CLA-RENCE!
I was lucky enough to be moved up to the third row during the “reunion tour” in 1999. My seat was literally at the foot of Clarence, and I can attest to the fact that he is a “Big Man.” I was so happy to be there though, because I new I’d see a lot of Bruce. They were practically inseparable on stage…and in life. They were always acting out during concerts by dancing together, joking together, and occasionally sharing a kiss or two. Just look at the cover of Born to Run…that depicts the depth of friendship between Bruce and Clarence. The way he played that saxophone could literally make a grown man (or woman) cry. His most famous solo is found in the song “Jungleland,” but we all know he’s done so much more. Make some time to sit down and listen to “The River,” “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” Out in the Street,” and one of my all-time favorites “Drive All Night.” Just hearing the sax on these songs is enough for you to understand.