Happy Birthday Clarence Clemons!
via Remedy Jam Outburst
From 1972 until his death, Clarence Clemons, Jr. (January 11, 1942 – June 18, 2011) played the tenor saxophone as a member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. Popularly known as "The Big Man", Clemons has released several solo albums and has acted in film and television, having appeared in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, The Simpsons, and The Wire.
As a child, Clemons received an alto saxophone as a Christmas present from his father, and he began taking music lessons. He later switched to baritone sax and then tenor sax. Clemons' first meeting with Bruce Springsteen has become part of the band's mythology, and was immortalized in "The E Street Shuffle" as well as "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" on Springsteen's album Born to Run. In several interviews, Clemons told this story about the first time they met:
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 were 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.
via The Chicago Sun Times
In 1972, Springsteen began working on his debut album Greetings from Asbury Park, and Clemons was playing with a local band, The Joyful Noyze. Springsteen recruited Clemons to play the tenor sax on the songs "Blinded by the Light" and "Spirit in the Night". Clemons made his informal debut as a member of the E Street Band during an impromptu performance at The Shipbottom Lounge.
Clemons has worked with artists including Aretha Franklin, for whom he played saxophone on "Freeway of Love" and Jackson Browne, with whom he recorded the duet "You're A Friend of Mine". Clemons has performed in concert with The Grateful Dead and Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band.
As an actor, Clemons made his debut in the Martin Scorcese musical, New York, New York, and played one of the In The World' in the 1989 comedy film Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. He has lent his voice to The Simpsons, and appeared as a youth-program organizer on The Wire.
Clemons is remembered for his philanthropic efforts and his advocacy of children's safety and protection against domestic violence. On October 22, 2009, Little Kids Rock, a nonprofit dedicated to restoring and revitalizing music education in public schools, presented Clemons with the inaugural "Big Man of the Year Award" at the Right to Rock charity benefit.
On June 18, 2011, Clemons died following complications from a stroke. Bruce Springsteen remembered his friend thusly: "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."
- Birthday Date: Saturday, 11 January 2014