Clarence Clemons, known to millions of music fans as ‘The Big Man’, passed away on Saturday, June 18, 2011. The 69 year old legendary saxophonist died due to complications from a stroke he suffered days prior.
Clemons, who was born in Norfolk, Virginia and attended Maryland State College, was actually on the way to a career in football when a car accident interrupted his plans. A knee injury prevented Clemons, the eldest of three children of fish market owner Clarence Clemons, Sr. and Thelma Clemons, from pursuing a career in football, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise for music fans.
For more than three decades Clemons was a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. The two met in 1971, though the exact details of that meeting are up to debate. Springsteen summed up Clemons in the foreward to the musician’s fictionalized biography, Big Man: Real Life & Tall Tales: “Clarence has spent much of his life as a drifting spirit. Where he walks, the world conforms to his presence. For his size, ‘C’ is an unassuming man. He does not impress himself upon you. He just brings it with him when he comes.”
Following Clemons’ death, Springsteen issued this statement on his official site:
It is with overwhelming sadness that we inform our friends and fans that at 7:00 tonight, Saturday, June 18, our beloved friend and bandmate, Clarence Clemons passed away. The cause was complications from his stroke of last Sunday, June 12th.
Bruce Springsteen said of Clarence: 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. His loss is immeasurable and we are honored and thankful to have known him and had the opportunity to stand beside him for nearly forty years. 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.