Legendary rock saxophonist Clarence Clemons died Saturday of complications from a stroke at the age of 69. Clemons was the sax man in Springsteen’s E Street Band off and on since 1972.
Clemons, also known as “the big man” because he was six feet high, was born in Virginia in 1942 and began studying saxophone at age 9. He played gospel, R&B and jazz.
“Clarence lived a wonderful life. He carried within him a love of people that made them love him. He created a wondrous and extended family. He loved the saxophone, loved our fans and gave everything he had every night he stepped on stage,” bandmate Bruce Springsteen said in a statement.
“His loss is immeasurable and we are honored and thankful to have known him and had the opportunity to stand beside him for nearly 40 years. He was my great friend, my partner and with Clarence at my side, my band and I were able to tell a story far deeper than those simply contained in our music. His life, his memory, and his love will live on in that story and in our band.”
Clemons, who played on such classic hits as “Born to Run” and “Thunder Road”, passed away at a hospital in Palm Beach, Florida, where he had stayed ever since suffering a stroke last Sunday, said a spokesperson for Springsteen and the E Street Band. He was surrounded by members of his family, including his wife, Victoria, according to the spokesperson.
Clemons also recorded three solo albums, scoring a 1985 hit, “You’re a Friend of Mine,” a duet with Jackson Browne. He also racked up a number of acting credits, ranging from Martin Scorsese’s 1977 movie, “New York, New York,” to the HBO drama “The Wire.”