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Clarence Clemons RIP

William Kelly

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Clarence Clemons, the beloved saxophonist for the E Street Band and called "one of the key influences in Bruce Springsteen's life and music through four decades" by the AP, died today in Florida. He had suffered a stroke about a week ago, and Springsteen's spokesman said that Clemons' death was due to complications from the stroke.

The NY Times' obituary notes that Clemons' "jovial onstage manner, soul-rooted style and brotherly relationship with Mr. Springsteen made him one of rock's most beloved sidemen" and:

From the beginnings of the E Street Band in 1972, Mr. Clemons played a central part in Mr. Springsteen's music, complementing the group's electric guitar and driving rhythms in songs like "Born to Run" and "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" with muscular, melodic saxophone hooks that echoed doo-wop, soul and early rock 'n' roll.

But equally important to the group's image was the sense of affection and unbreakable camaraderie between Mr. Springsteen and his sax man. Few E Street Band shows were complete without a shaggy-dog story about the stormy night the two men met at a bar in Asbury Park, N.J., or a long bear hug between them at the end of the night.

Rolling Stone's obituary declares, "Clemons - known affectionately to fan and friends as the Big Man"—Clemons was 6'4" and 250 pounds—"- was the heart and soul of the E Street Band. His playing on tracks like 'Born To Run,' 'Thunder Road,' 'Jungleland,' 'Dancing In The Dark' and countless more represent some of the most famous sax work in the history of rock & roll." Springsteen himself wrote in the introduction to Clemons' memoir, "The story I have told throughout my work life I could not have told as well without Clarence." Here are a few videos of Clemons' beautiful playing—he was recently on American Idol with Lady Gaga (he plays the sax in "Edge of Glory"): Clarence Clemons, E Street Band Saxophonist, Dies At 69: Gothamist

Although Bruce wrote this song, Clarence comes in on sax about half way and takes it by the throat and claims it as his own.

Not even dead.

Jungleland - Bruce Springsteen lyrics

The rangers had a homecoming in harlem late last night

Andthe magic rat drove his sleek machine over the jersey state line

Barefootgirl sitting on the hood of a dodge

Drinkingwarm beer in the soft summer rain

The rat pulls into town rolls up his pants

Togetherthey take a stab at romance and disappear down flamingo lane

Wellthe maximum lawman run down flamingo chasing the rat and the barefoot


Andthe kids round here look just like shadows always quiet, holding hands

Fromthe churches to the jails tonight all is silence in the world

As wetake our stand down in jungleland

The midnight gangs assembled and picked a rendezvous for the night

They'll meet `neath that giant exxon sign that brings this fair city light

Manthere's an opera out on the turnpike

There'sa ballet being fought out in the alley

Untilthe local cops, cherry tops, rips this holy night

Thestreets alive as secret debts are paid

Contacts made, they vanished unseen

Kidsflash guitars just like switch-blades hustling for the record machine

Thehungry and the hunted explode into rocknroll bands

Thatface off against each other out in the street down in jungleland

In theparking lot the visionaries dress in the latest rage

Insidethe backstreet girls are dancing to the records that the d.j. plays

Lonely-heartedlovers struggle in dark corners

Desperateas the night moves on, just a look and a whisper, and they're gone

Beneaththe city two hearts beat

Soulengines running through a night so tender in a bedroom locked

Inwhispers of soft refusal and then surrender in the tunnels uptown

Therats own dream guns him down as shots echo down them hallways in the


No one watches when the ambulance pulls away

Or asthe girl shuts out the bedroom light

Outside the streets on fire in a real death waltz

Between flesh and what's fantasy and the poets down here

Don'twrite nothing at all, they just stand back and let it all be

And inthe quick of the night they reach for their moment

Andtry to make an honest stand but they wind up wounded, not even dead

Tonight in jungleland

Edited by William Kelly
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