Very sad news today: Clarence Clemons, iconic saxophonist for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, has died due to complications from a stroke he suffered last weekend, The New York Times reports. Clemons, aka the Big Man, was 69 years old.
Clemons performed alongside Springsteen for four decades following their 1971 meeting in Asbury Park, New Jersey, contributing a slew of the most memorable sax solos in rock history to the Boss’ songs. Born To Run, which famously features a cover photo of Springsteen leaning on Clemons’ shoulder, includes a handful of particularly iconic Big Man-starring moments: the extended solo in “Jungleland,” “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” (where Bruce sings about how “the big man joined the band”), the title track, the stunning closing section of “Thunder Road,” and many more.
“I grew up with a very religious background,” Clemons once said. “I got into the soul music, but I wanted to rock. I was a rocker. I was a born rock ’n’ roll sax player.” Below is a classic clip of Big Man’s show-stopping solo in “Jungleland,” live in 1980, as well as a statement from Springsteen’s website: