Thursday, June 23, 2011

Remembering The Big Man: Clarence Clemons

Clarence Clemons was one of the most iconic saxophone players in rock music. Towering at stage right with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Clemons was a fan favorite, adding scorching sax lines to the band's working class rock sound. Clemons passed away on June 18 due to complications that arose from a stroke he suffered the week before. He was 69 years old.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band have always been a personal favorite of mine, and Clemons' tenor sax on songs like "10th Avenue Freeze-Out", "Sherry Darling", and "Badlands", gave the band a soul and character that set them apart from their contemporaries. The songs that always give me chills have big saxophone solos from The Big Man himself: "Thunder Road", and "Jungleland", both from the "Born To Run" album. I recently read that the epic sax solo at the end of the song "Jungleland" took over 16 hours in the studio, where Clemons and Springsteen worked together to arrange it perfectly. If you've never heard it before, here's a clip from a 2009 performance at Madison Square Garden(that I was lucky enough to attend!).

And for good measure, here's one more clip of "10th Avenue Freeze Out", live in 1978!

Check out some of the Springsteen MIDI files available at Yamaha MusicSoft and Internet Direct Connection:

Glory Days

Hungry Heart

Girls In Their Summer Clothes

Working On A Dream

Pay Me My Money Down

Though The Big Man has passed on, his music will always be there for those who want to listen. Rest In Peace Clarence Clemons.