Clarence Clemons, the legendary saxophonist in the E Street Band who played alongside Bruce Springsteen for the past 40 years, died on June 18th. Clemons had suffered a massive stroke on June 12th. While initial signs had been hopeful after his hospitalization and two subsequent brain surgeries, he reportedly took a turn for the worse later in the week. He was 69.
Clemons – known affectionately to fan and friends as the Big Man – was the heart and soul of the E Street Band. His playing on tracks like “Born To Run,” “Thunder Road,” “Jungleland,” “Dancing In The Dark” and countless more represent some of the most famous sax work in the history of rock & roll. “The story I have told throughout my work life I could not have told as well without Clarence,” Springsteen wrote in the introduction to Clemons’ 2009 memoir Big Man: Real Life and Tall Tales.
So much has been said and written about the stormy night in Asbury Park in 1971 when Clemons met Springsteen that it’s hard to separate fact from myth. At the time, Springsteen was a struggling musician playing the New Jersey bar circuit and Clemons was a former college football player who spent his nights playing sax in clubs along the shore. “It was raining and thundering like a motherfucker,” Clemons wrote in his memoir. “When I opened the door it blew off the hinges and flew down the street . . . Somebody introduced me to Bruce, everybody knew everybody, and he asked me if I wanted to sit in.”
Clemons soon became part of Springsteen’s backing band (not yet known as the E Street Band), and when Bruce recorded his debut LP Greetings From Asbury Park in the summer of 1972, Clemons was brought in for the sessions. Over the next two decades, Clemons became the most recognizable member of the E Street Band – for his massive size, equally huge personality and his onstage role as Springsteen’s foil.
He’s the only member of the band on the cover of Born To Run with Springsteen. “When you open it up and see Clarence and me together, the album begins to work its magic,” Springsteen wrote in Clemons’ memoir. “Who are these guys? Where did they come from? What is the joke they are sharing? A friendship and a narrative steeped in the complicated history of America begins to work and there is music already in the air.”
In the 1980s, Clemons began a second career as an actor, appearing in TV shows like Diff’rent Strokes and movies such as Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. He also scored a solo hit in 1985 with “You’re A Friend Of Mine,” a duet with Jackson Browne. He was on tour with Ringo Starr’s All Star Band in 1989 when Springsteen phoned him to say he was breaking up the band. “I didn’t speak or even attempt to interject,” Clemons wrote in his memoir. “I got very quiet and stopped smiling. In fact, it looked to Ringo like I was being told about somebody dying.”
The E Street Band reformed in 1999 and has been incredibly active ever since. Clemons loved being back on the road, even as he battled incredible pain with his knees, back and hips. Earlier this year, he played sax on two tracks on Lady Gaga’s new album Born This Way. He appears in the recently released video for “Edge of Glory,” and his final live performance was with Gaga on the season finale of American Idol.
Cry With Us! Puddles Pity Party in Orlando
I owe him a poem:
Here’s a story of a sad clown who one night in February was traveling through O-town.
He brought a suitcase and a lot of gum, he brought music and videos and tons of fun.
He sang high but mostly he sang low, and he put of one hell of a good show.
He gave a bearded guy a cupcake and danced with a lady, a wolf he would make
There is no doubt he is a boss sir, he even got love from Kevin Costner.
Fans filled the plaza for a night of delight as the 7 foot clown gave us some real insight.
He sang Bowie and Queen and even some Who, also Cash, Lorde and “Let it go” too
Videos played of pets and babies crying, also beautiful artwork and people smiling.
Last night Orlando was anything but mad as we showed much love for a clown that is sad.
Ok, I’d cry too after that poem. Here’s some more info:
If you haven’t been to see a Puddles Pity Party show, you are missing out.
The show had me smiling and laughing so hard my stomach hurt, but I was also moved so many times by the range of Puddles voice. True entertainment never gets old and I have a feeling he is going to last forever.
I loved the interaction he had with the crowd. He pulled numerous people up to help him on stage and all of them were good sports, one man even singing the entire song, “All by myself” karaoke style! The show was so well thought out and planned but with room for some hilarious improv. Especially at the end when he pulled the 3 fans from the audience dressed like clowns. At the end of them performing together, Puddles suddenly remembers that he is scared of clowns! Genius!
Hands down one of the best performances I’ve seen in years.
Kingsized Holiday Fun! Big Mike is Back at the Variety Playhouse!
Big Mike Geier and his Kingsized Rock ‘n Roll Orchestra, along with the Dames Aflame Dancers, Lil’ Santa and other special guests, bring tidings of comfort and joy with their signature glitz and glamour in what has become a tinsel-time tradition at the Variety Playhouse. The all-ages 90-minute show features your Holiday favorites by the likes of Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Andy Williams, Heat Miser, The Grinch and more!
We caught up with Big Mike to ask a few questions.
TBB: Big Mike! It’s been a couple years since we had the pleasure of seeing you perform live. We are so excited to be back in Atlanta and we are ready for this show. What can you tell us about this years event?
Big Mike: Welcome back to Atlanta, Ange! We’re also excited to be in town for another wild and wonderful Holiday Jubilee. We like to honor the tradition that the Jubilee has become and don’t mess too much with the format. You can expect the always magnificent sounds of the 12-piece Kingsized Rock ‘n Roll orchestra performing your favorite holiday classics and the dazzling Dames Aflame dancers providing the glamour. The show is all about holiday nostalgia, whatever that means to you: Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, Donnie Hathaway, The Grinch, Rankin Bass, Peanuts, the Dreidel Song? It’s all in there.
Turkuaz at Aisle 5
Brooklyn based funk band Turkuaz played at Aisle Five in Atlanta last week and here are some shots from the show!
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