Saturday, January 11, 2014

Jan. 11: Saxophonist Clarence Clemons with the E Street Band was born on this date in 1942...

... he died June 18, 2011 at the age of 69.

From 1972 until his death, Clarence Anicholas Clemons, Jr., also known as The Big Man, was a prominent member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band He released several solo albums and in 1985 had a hit single with "You're a Friend of Mine," a duet with Jackson Browne.

As a guest musician he also featured on Aretha Franklin's "Freeway of Love" and on Twisted Sister's "Be Chrool to Your Scuel" as well as performing in concert with The Grateful Dead and Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band.

As an actor Clemons featured in several films, including New York, New York and Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. He also made cameo appearances in several TV series, such as Diff'rent Strokes, Nash Bridges, The Simpsons and The Wire.

Together with his friend Don Reo he published his autobiography, Big Man: Real Life & Tall Tales, in 2009. Clemons suffered a stroke on June 12, 2011 and died due to complications from the stroke on June 18 at 69 years old.


Clemons was the grandson of a Southern Baptist preacher and grew up listening to Gospel music. When he was nine, his father gave him an alto saxophone as a Christmas present and paid for music lessons. He later switched to baritone sax and played in a high school jazz band.

His uncle also influenced his early musical development when he bought him his first King Curtis album. Curtis, and his work with The Coasters in particular, would be become a major influence on Clemons and led to him switching to tenor saxophone.

As a youth Clemons also showed potential as an American football player, and he attended Maryland State College on both music and football scholarships. A lineman, he drew interest of the Cleveland Browns who offered him a try out. The day before he was to report, he was involved in a serious car accident which effectively ended any plans of a career in the NFL.

(Continued below video and Amazon portals ...)

(Press album cover for direct link to the entire Amazon Website):

Brothers in ArmsBig Man: Real Life & Tall Tales

Clemons had one of his earliest recording studio experiences when he was 18 years-old. with Tyrone Ashley's Funky Music Machine, a band from Plainfield, New Jersey. He also performed with Daniel Petraitis, a New Jersey and Nashville legend. These sessions were eventually released in 2007 by Truth and Soul Records as Let Me Be Your Man.

While at Maryland State College Clemons also joined his first band, The Vibratones, which played James Brown covers and stayed together for about four years between 1961 and 1965. While still playing with this band he moved to Newark, New Jersey were he worked as a counsellor for emotionally disturbed children at the Jamesburg Training School for Boys between 1962 and 1970.

Clemons first met Bruce Springsteen in September 1971. At the time Clemons was playing with Norman Seldin & The Joyful Noyze at The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Seldin was a Jersey Shore musician/entrepreneur who, as well as playing piano and leading various bands, had his own record label, Selsom Records.

In 1969 Clemons had recorded a selt-titled album with this band. In 2008 tracks from this album were reissued on an anthology, Asbury Park – Then And Now. Karen Cassidy, lead vocalist with The Joyful Noyze, encouraged Clemons to check out Springsteen who was playing with The Bruce Springsteen Band at the nearby Student Prince.

When Clarence went to hear Springsteen, when he opened the door it flew off its hinges and blew down the street. The band, who were on-stage, stared at Clarence framed in the doorway. Clarence said, "I want to play with your band." Springsteen stammered, "Sure, you do anything you want."

The first song they did together was "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."

Clemons went on and had notable solos with The E Street Band on such tunes as "Born to Run," "Thunder Road" and "Badlands."


For more about Clarence, visit his Website at -


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