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Microphone Month

The Big Man Passes

Clarence Clemens, long-time saxophonist with Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band passed away on June 18th. Clemens, who was 69, had suffered a stroke six days earlier.

Legend has it that Clemens first encountered Springsteen at a club show on a very windy night. When he opened the door, the wind caught it and ripped it loose, sending it spinning down the street. The crowd turned to see his massive frame silhouetted in the empty door frame. When he asked, Springsteen allowed him to sit in.

Born in 1942 in Norfolk, Virginia, Clemens was a high school athlete. After a car accident prevented him from pursuing professional sports, he became a social worker, eventually pursuing music as his career.

He became a stalwart member of the E-Street Band in 1971, and provided solos on such songs as “Born to Run,” Jungleland,” and many, many more. He also played on a hit single with Jackson Browne, “You’re a Friend of Mine” (1985), and later toured with Ringo Starr. Recently, he played on two tracks on Lady Gaga’s new album. In 2009 he published Big Man: Real Life and Tall Takes, his memoir.

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