Het zal morgen al tien jaar geleden zijn dat de Amerikaanse saxofonist Clarence Clemons is overleden. Hij was het meest kleurrijke lid (letterlijk en figuurlijk) van Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band. Op de video “Glory days” vertelt Bruce over de grappige manier waarop hij met hem kennismaakte: “Op een avond zijn we in een kleine club aan het spelen en plotseling vliegt de deur open. Een boom van een kerel heeft ze met hengsels en al eruit gerukt. ‘Mag ik meespelen?’ vraagt hij ons. Nou, wie zou er tegen zo een kleerkast ‘neen’ durven zeggen? Achteraf bleek wel dat het eigenlijk door een stormwind was dat de deur was afgebroken, maar ondertussen was Clarence al lid van de groep en wilden we hem voor geen geld meer missen.”
Clarence Clemons was given an alto saxophone as a Christmas present. He later switched to baritone saxophone and played in a high school jazz band. King Curtis, and his work with The Coasters in particular, would become a major influence on Clemons and led to him switching to tenor saxophone. Apart from his work with the E-Street Band he released several solo albums. In 1985 he had a hit single with “You’re a Friend of Mine”, a duet with Jackson Browne. As a guest musician he also featured on Aretha Franklin’s classic “Freeway of Love” and several other albums, like “Born this way” by Lady Gaga or “Dedication” by Gary U.S.Bonds. As an actor Clemons featured in several films, including New York, New York and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
He also made cameo appearances in several TV series, including Diff’rent Strokes, Nash Bridges, The Simpsons and The Wire. Together with his television writer friend Don Reo he published his semi-fictional autobiography told in third person, Big Man: Real Life & Tall Tales, in 2009. Clemons suffered a stroke on June 12, 2011, and died of complications from it on June 18. He was posthumously inducted into the university’s Athletics Hall of Fame on February 24, 2012, as he showed potential as an American football player. He played as a lineman on the same team as Emerson Boozer and attracted the attention of the Cleveland Browns, who offered him a trial. Clemons also tried out for the Dallas Cowboys. However, the day before, he was involved in a serious car accident which effectively ended any plans of a career in the National Football League.