The music world lost a legend yesterday as Clarence Clemons died at the age of 69 following a stroke he suffered last week. Clarence was Bruce Springsteen’s sidekick and the heart and soul of The E Street Band, and he’ll go down as the best sax player in rock history. He helped to define Springsteen’s signature Jersey sound with his epic saxophone solos, and like Springsteen he was a natural showman. The two of them were always in sync as they played off of one another onstage, both musically and when they were clowning around.
There was nothing like the drama of a Clarence Clemons sax solo, so no rock concert was quite like a Bruce Springsteen concert. His booming sax would put an emphatic exclamation point on many of Springsteen’s most powerful songs like “Thunder Road.” (see below)
Bruce issued the following statement:
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.
Hopefully Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band will tour again, but it will never be the same without The Big Man.
Back in the 1970’s when AOR radio ruled the world of rock music, WMMS in Cleveland was one of the biggest and most influential radio stations in the country, led by DJ and program director Kid Leo. Every Friday afternoon at 5:00, the station kicked off the weekend by playing Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run,” a tradition started by Kid Leo. Outside of New Jersey, Cleveland was a second home for The Boss and Kid Leo was his biggest fan. I remember discovering Springsteen’s music several days before The River hit the stores. Kid Leo got his hands on a copy and played the entire double album front-to-back five times throughout the day! I caught it in the afternoon, and then made sure to come back and listen after dinner for two more sessions. I was hooked.
As we thought about our new Happy Hour feature for Friday afternoons, adding a great song in the form of an embedded music video to the drink recipes, beer and cigar reviews and other Happy Hour features seemed like an obvious idea, and kicking it off with “Born to Run” with Bruce Springsteen made perfect sense.
So, enjoy the video, which was released back in 1985 to promote Springsteen’s live album. Bruce looks younger and Clarence looks like a character from one of those bad 80’s movies starring Andrew McCarthy. It’s probably the best live version of “Born to Run” I’ve heard, and the video (particularly the second half) captures the energy and fun of a typical Springsteen concert.