Last week, we lost The Big Man, Clarence Clemons, to complications from a stroke. An artist of the stature of Clarence Clemons can not pass without a proper obituary in every music column, and mine is no exception.
Although best known for his roles in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band and his own Red Bank Rockers, Clarence was oh so much more than that. Married 5 times, with 4 sons, Clemons left a rich legacy. He came to music following an auto accident that ruined a promising pro football career on the day before he was to try out for the Cleveland Browns. Over the years, Clarence worked with an astonishing variety of artists, from Ringo’s All-Star Band to Twisted Sister and everybody in between. His last gig was Lady Gaga’s latest record! In the interim, he got calls to play and record with Jackson Browne, Joe Cocker, Todd Rundgren, Roy Orbison, Luther Vandross, Ian Hunter, Ronnie Spector, Gary US Bonds, Alvin Lee (Ten Years After),The 4 Tops, Great White, Narada Michael Walden, Carlene Carter, Jim Carroll, and Aretha Franklin on “Freeway of Love”. And that’s only a partial list! Enough variety there for ya? Clarence was also fond of showing up unannounced at Grateful Dead shows and jamming with Jerry and the boys!
He was also in demand for movies and television shows, appearing in “New York, New York” with Robert DeNiro, “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”, “Blues Brothers 2000”, and episodes of Different Strokes, Nash Bridges, The Wire, and The Simpsons.
Before “The Big Man joined the band”, he had heard about Springsteen and wanted to check him out, so one stormy night when Bruce was playing in Asbury Park, Clarence walked over to see him. As he arrived at the club and opened the door to walk in, a sudden gust of wind came along and blew the door off it’s hinges, and it flew down the street, making it look to the band, who were on stage at the time, that Clarence had ripped the door off it’s hinges and casually tossed it down the street, leaving him framed in the doorway in the dark! He then walked in and told The Boss, “I wanna play in your band”, to which Springsteen could only reply, “Uh, sure. You do anything you want”! At the funeral, Springsteen gave the eulogy, and said that “When you were in his presence, it was like being in a sovereign nation”! Little Steven marked the solemn occasion by devoting the entire Underground Garage show to The Big Man, deservedly so! RIP Clarence Clemons. May your big heart shine on.
It seems like the only things happening this week are all on Friday night, July 8th. We’ve got Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, DAVE MASON, at The Bearsville Theater, slide guitar master, SONNY LANDRETH, at Club Helsinki in Hudson, and drummer extraordinaire, TERRY BOZZIO, at The Iridium in NYC, all on the same night. Ya takes yer pick and ya names yer person (that’s poison, for those of you who can’t spell propily).
So, take it easy this week, and conserve your energy. You’ll need it on July 15th! Have a great week.