Jun 182011

The Big Man is no longer with us.



  17 Responses to “Clarence Clemons Dies at 69”

  1. I mentioned on another thread my band opened for Clarence Clemons sometime in the mid 80’s. I called an old band mate to give him the news and he filled in a couple of blanks for me. Kevin (the band mate) had a guitar that he would get signed by anyone of note we played with. Mr. Clemons signed it “Love Clarence Clemons” and we ribbed him relentlessly about the love part. That was who he was though, a gentle giant. He was a soft spoken huge man. Kevin reminds me it was a Marine base ( I though it was an Army base) and Clemon’s brother was the band Director, that’s why he was there. I’m not sure if he had his own band or if he was playing with the Marine band. It was a daytime gig and we had another that night so we probably left before the started.


  2. It is hard to think of another pure sideman who had more impact on the main artists’ identity than the Big Man to Bruce. (That clownish guy to Anton in Brian Jonestown Massacre? Man, that is not a fair comparison!)

    Bruce has done OK at replacing members of E Street Band but Clarence won’t be replicated.

  3. I think I have seen my final E Street Band show (which makes me very sad)

  4. I don’t know about that Jungleland2. I am hard pressed to think of a sideman with as much influence as CC but E Street will, in the end, survive. They won’t be the same but that doesn’t mean they won’t be good or even better. The Stones lost Brian Jones and did alright. AC/DC lost Bon Scott and still kicked ass. The show must go on.

  5. Good point, k. There must be some contenders for Clemons’ title, but none have come to mind.

  6. As some of you may have gathered, I’m no great fan of Springsteen and his band of brothers, but I respect them and certainly get where they’re coming from. The couple of times I turned on the radio or flipped by an MTV/VH1 station this weekend I was actually expecting Big Man-centric programming, like a Boss A-Z, or at least a long block of all the epic Springsteen songs featuring heroic sax solos. I know it’s not like Lennon dying, but Clemons’ death seemed to me about as significant as, I don’t know, George Harrison’s. Maybe I missed the stirring tributes and archived interviews, or maybe radio and tv are too tightly programmed to serve The People like they used to be. Or am I imagining a time when radio stations made a big deal out of rock legends dying? The only station I heard paying tribute to Clemons was our AM sports-talk radio station.

  7. misterioso

    I have my own long-standing mixed feelings about Bruce et al. But I understand that Clemons was, in ways that go beyond his musical contributions, a big part of the whole E Street Band vibe. May he rest in peace.

    But while I accept the notion that Clemons was, as the headline of this appreciation in today’s NY Times asserts, “Much More Than Springsteen’s Sideman,” I find highly dubious the idea that, as Pareles writes, “Mr. Clemons’s imposing figure declared that the E Street Band was sharing rock ’n’ roll’s black heritage, not plundering it.”

    Now, I am not suggesting that Springsteen is any more guilty of “plundering” rock ‘n’ roll’s black heritage than a whole lot of other people. But is the secret to immunity from this accusation simply to have a black guy in the band? Doesn’t this run the risk of spilling over into mere tokenism? And I am not suggesting that Springsteen would ever make such a claim himself. I wonder why Pareles does.

  8. That’s a good point. Pareles may be making such a claim because he’s the typical rock critic type in need of our monitoring. May future generations learn from this.

  9. I am sad about this news. He always managed to lift whatever he was involved in.

    I haven’t heard it yet, but I understand he was flown in to do a couple of tracks on Lady Gaga’s newest release.

    RIP, Clarence.


  10. BigSteve

    On Bruce’s first two albums his keyboard player, David Sancious, was also black (presumably still is). He’s more of a jazz player.

    At the time it was certainly rare to have black dudes in a rock band. Come to think of it, it still is.

  11. Yea verily, a Change was made Uptown;

    And the Big Man did join The Band.

  12. BigSteve

    Clarence had a duet hit with Jackson Browne in 1985:


    This was a question at music trivia tonight, and I have absolutely no recollection of this. Does anyone else remember this?

  13. I definitely remember that song, but then again, I’ve lived most of my life on the edge of Boss Country. I did not, however, remember that Jackson Browne was the other singer.

  14. I absolutely remember this but for whatever reason as a JB song w/ the Big Man.

    And mahalos for resuscitating for me the image of a pristine, stone-washed, permed Daryl Hannah. Mmmmmm………

  15. New Jersey Governor Christie Kreme ordered flags flown at half-mast today in honor of the Big Man. That is all.

  16. 2000 Man

    From what I’ve seen of that douchebag, it must have cost half as much to raise the flags, so it was a good idea.

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