Well, that's another of my heroes gone. Bruce Springsteen's long-time saxophone player and right-hand man Clarence Clemons - affectionately known to the E Street Band and his millions of fans as the Big Man - passed away last night, aged 69, following complications arising from a stroke the previous week. It is fair to say that Bruce Springsteen's music has played a very significant part in the soundtrack to my life. And the Big Man's wonderful sax solos figure prominently in my line-up of favourite Springsteen songs - and in many cases actually made the songs what they are. If you are one of those rare people who are unfamiliar with Springsteen's (and hence the Big Man's) music, then check out this live (audio) version of Jungleland, which features a sax solo lasting over two minutes - and probably one of the Big Man's finest..............
For those that are familiar, then check-out your Springsteen record collection and remind yourself how good the Big Man was, on other classic tracks such as "Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)", "Thunder Road", "Badlands" or - my very favourite - "Drive All Night".
I was privileged to see Bruce and The E Street Band 5 times - twice in 1981, twice in 1985 and once in 1988 - and the Big Man's solos were always a highlight. This guy was far more than a mere "sideman" - when he stepped into the spotlight, the crowd would go mad, even before he played a note. And when he did play, it was enough to send a real shiver down the spine - he was that good.
The death of long-time keyboard player Danny Federici a couple of years ago was a real body blow to Springsteen and The E Street Band, but the passing of Clarence Clemons may just be the knock-out blow. For sure, Bruce and the band may go on for a good few years yet. But it will never be the same again - not without the Big Man. :-)
RIP, Clarence - and thank you for the music.