Clarence Clemons is dead at age 69. Nicknamed The Big Man, he stood 6′ 5″ and weighed-in at 270. Pity his pall bearers. Pity us fans.
His mighty lungs were the engine room of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. When he picked up his mighty tenor sax, the walls of Jericho protecting the human core shook and crumpled as emotions were laid bare and spirits were lifted to the heavens. The solo Clarence plays in “Jungleland” is testament to his greatness.
With breath and finger movement, he picked our bones clean.
I had the pleasure of seeing him perform with the Boss at least 10 times. Over the years the band lost some of its intensity, but the E Streeters always delivered the goods. Front and center in my memory banks is the band in its glory days on the “Darkness” tour, playing Richfield Coliseum outside of Cleveland. I managed to get free admission to be a security person for the show. Originally, my task was to check purses for booze and weapons, but I talked my way into a better detail– guarding the rows of seats behind the stage to keep fans away.
As the concert started, I settled into my post in one of the seats on the edge of the vacancy zone and watched the show. Springsteen and the E Street Band were at their peak, and I had a fabulous seat.
And Clarence, Clarence just blew us all away.
Thanks, Big Man. With your lungs, I doubt you’ll be issued a harp in heaven.