The tears have finally stopped… at least for now. I still get emotional when a few songs come on the radio, but I am slowly coming to grips. It’s hard to hear those sax solos and know that, that mighty horn is silent.
On January 11, 1942 The Big Man was born… Clarence Anicholas Clemons, Jr.
In 1972 he would change the world, and like all great universe-changing events, it started in Jersey!
His tenor saxophone would open up a musical landscape for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Rock n’ Roll would never be the same.
This is how Clarence recalls it:
“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 was 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.”
Here is just a brief history of The Big Man in sounds and images… no words from me needed…
“Rosalita” (My personal fave along with “Growin’ Up”)
“You’re a Friend of Mine” (With Jackson Browne). A bit cheesy and odd on many levels, as you’ll see, but…
“Freeway of Love” (With Aretha Franklin). LOVE the shades, Big Man!!!
Although his physical, giant presence left this mortal ground on June 18, 2011, his even larger soul is flying over all of us, tenor sax and tambourine in hand… He was, is and will always be The Big Man.