Clarence Clemons, long time saxophonist for Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, passed on 18 June 2011 at the age of 69. The cause was complications from a stroke.
Clarence Clemons was born on 11 January 1942 in Norfolk, Virginia. His father bought him a saxophone for his birthday when he was 9 years old and also paid for him to learn to play it. Starting with alto saxophone, he switched to baritone saxophone in high school, where he played in the jazz band. He attended Maryland State College on both football and music scholarships. Mr. Clemons would enter a recording studio while still very young, recording Tyrone Ashley's Funky Music Machine, a band from Plainfield, New Jersey, when he was only 18. While in college he joined the band The Vibratones, which lasted from 1961 to 1965.
By the late Sixties Clarence Clemons would be performing with Norman Seldin & The Joyful Noyze, a New Jersey band which recorded a self titled album in 1969. He was still playing with them when, according to legend, in September 1971 that Clarence Clemons first met Bruce Springsteen. Regardless, afterwards Mr. Clemons join Mr. Springsteen's band and would perform on Bruce Springsteen's debut album Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. As part of The E Street Band, Mr.Clemons would appear on every Bruce Springsteen (over twenty at all). Clarence Clemons would have his own projects, recording as "Clarence Clemons and The Red Bank Rockers" for the 1985 album Rescue, recording three solo albums, and recording three more albums as Clarence Clemons and the Temple of Soul. He would also record with Gary U. S. Bonds, Ringo Starr, Zucherro, and others.
There can be no doubt that Clarence Clemons was one of the greatest rock saxophonists of all time. In an era when guitarists were most often the idols, Mr. Clemons carved a niche for himself. In fact, much of what set Bruce Springsteen's music apart from other artists was Clarence Clemons powerful saxophone. Clarence Clemons was central to the sound of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, to the point that it seems impossible that he will be able to be replaced. Clarence Clemons was unique. As a result the music of Bruce Springsteen might never sound the same again.