By Kate Stanhope
Clarence Clemons, the longtime saxophone player for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, has died. He was 69.
Clemons — also known as the “Big Man” — died Saturday from complications of a stroke he suffered a week earlier at his home in Singer Island, Fla. He had been in serious but stable condition and underwent two surgeries.
“Clarence lived a wonderful life. He carried within him a love of people that made them love him. He created a wondrous and extended family. He loved the saxophone, loved our fans and gave everything he had every night he stepped on stage,” Springsteen said in a statement posted on his website. “His loss is immeasurable and we are honored and thankful to have known him and had the opportunity to stand beside him for nearly 40 years.”
Added Springsteen: “He was my great friend, my partner, and with Clarence at my side, my band and I were able to tell a story far deeper than those simply contained in our music. His life, his memory, and his love will live on in that story and in our band.”
A Norfolk, Va., native, Clemons met Springsteen on the Jersey Shore in 1971 and played on two songs on the New Jersey rocker’s debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. Clemons joined Springsteen’s inaugural E Street Band in late 1972 and played with them until his death. Clemons played on 21 Springsteen albums and was featured prominently on many of his biggest hits, including “Blinded By the Light,” “Thunder Road,” “Jungleland,” “Badlands” and “I’m Goin’ Down.”
On stage, Springsteen regularly introduced Clemons as “The Biggest Man You’ve Ever Seen.” Clemons was about 6-foot-5 and 270 pounds.
Clemons also acted, playing a trumpet player in Martin Scorsese’s 1977 musical, New York, New York and played one of “The Three Most Important People in the World” in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. On the small screen, he guest-starred on Diff’rent Strokes, The Simpsons and The Wire, among others. Clemons also released an autobiography in 2009, Big Man: Real Life & Tall Tales.
Aside from the E Street Band, Clemons collaborated with many other artists from across the musical spectrum, such as Aretha Franklin, Ringo Starr, Twisted Sister, The Grateful Dead and his 1985 vocal duet with Jackson Browne — “You’re a Friend of Mine.”
Most recently, Clemons collaborated with Lady Gaga on several songs, including her current single “The Edge of Glory.”
Clemons is survived by four sons.