It’s been over a week now since the passing of the E Street Band’s sax player, the great Clarence Clemons but the sadness still lingers. I had wanted to write my own obituary but last week didn’t seem right, first my birthday celebrations and then becoming a grandad. It was on the the Saturday I heard the news and at first I didn’t want to believe it. Surely it can’t be true, not Clarence? Although it deeply saddened me it also it brought back fond memories of some truly spectacular shows. Hearing Bruce’s eulogy at the funeral brought a tear to my eye and for the moment I thought of how he must have been feeling at the loss of his gentle giant, the man he came alive with on stage and in person.
I never met Clarence Clemons but he was that larger than life character you felt you knew. At every Springsteen gig I ever attended you’d hear The Big Man’s saxophone fill every inch of the stadium and the higher notes probably traveled even further to some downtown smoky bar. He was such an integral part of, not only the band but Bruce’s life too. It was very simple, he met him in a bar in New Jersey, they hung out and he never left. Until now. Those are always the greatest love stories, the ones where you just ignite from the first moment together and you feel that this time it’s going to last. Clarence was a powerhouse of a performer, Bruce knew that, we all did. Clarence Clemons never allowed Bruce a night off, he’d force him to be on top of his game. Bruce was more than capable but Clarence took him to the pinnacle of excellence, the point of perfection. The classic cover of Born to Run where Bruce just leans on the big man says it all. ‘We’re in it for the long haul, man’
He was there for every moment with Springsteen. He would glance over with his sax gripped firmly to his mouth and you could see the elation all over his face. Here was a guy with the best job in the world, and that stage was his world. To be loved and appreciated from the leader of the greatest live band we’ll probably ever see was everything to him. People talk of U2, the glitz and the glamor and the sheer enormity of the spectacle but it’s isn’t Bruce Springsteen and the E Steet Band. And it never will be.
Every music fan will be sharing the same grief. Lady Ga Ga is utterly devastated, Clarence’s swansong was a guest appearance on her latest single, Edge of glory. Indeed, Born to run and now laid to rest Clarence. Your train was bound for glory the moment you climbed aboard.
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