Clarence  Clemons

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Clarence  Clemons - Clarence Anicholas Clemons, Jr. (January 11, 1942 – June 18, 2011), also known as The Big Man, was an American musician and actor. From 1972 until his death, he was a prominent member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, playing the tenor saxophone.
He released several solo albums and in 1985, 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 on Twisted Sister's "Be Chrool to Your Scuel" as well as performing in concert with The Grateful Dead and Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band. 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, at 69 years of age.

Early life
Clarence  Clemons
Born in Norfolk County (later the city of Chesapeake), Virginia, Clemons was the son of Clarence Clemons, Sr., a fish market owner, and his wife Thelma. He was the oldest of their three children. His grandfather was a Southern Baptist preacher and, as a result, the young Clemons grew up listening to gospel music.

When he was nine, his father gave him an alto saxophone as a Christmas present and paid for music lessons. He later switched to baritone saxophone and played in a high school jazz band. His uncle also influenced his early musical development when he bought him his first King Curtis album. Curtis, and his work with The Coasters in particular, would be become a major influence on Clemons and led to him switching to tenor saxophone.

As a youth Clemons also showed potential as a football player, and graduated from Crestwood High School (now Crestwood Middle) before attending Maryland State College on both music and football scholarships. 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. 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. He would eventually be posthumously inducted into the university's Athletics Hall of Fame on February 24, 2012.

At age 18, Clemons had one of his earliest studio experiences, recording sessions with Tyrone Ashley's Funky Music Machine, a band from Plainfield, New Jersey that included Ray Davis, Eddie Hazel and Billy Bass Nelson, all of whom later played with Parliament-Funkadelic. He also performed with Daniel Petraitis, a New Jersey and Nashville legend. These sessions were eventually released in 2007, by Truth and Soul Records as Let Me Be Your Man. While at Maryland State College Clemons also joined his first band, The Vibratones, which played James Brown covers and stayed together for about four years between 1961 and 1965. While still playing with this band he moved to Newark, New Jersey where he worked as a counselor for emotionally disturbed children at the Jamesburg Training School for Boys between 1962 and 1970.
Music career

Bruce Springsteen

The story of how Clemons first met Bruce Springsteen has entered into E Street Band mythology. "The E Street Shuffle" with a monologue about how they met and the event was also immortalized in "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out". They allegedly met for the first time in September 1971. At the time Clemons was playing with Norman Seldin & The Joyful Noyze at The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Seldin was a Jersey Shore musician/entrepreneur who, as well as playing piano and leading various bands, had his own record label, Selsom Records. In 1969, Clemons had recorded an eponymous album with this band. In 2008, tracks from this album were reissued on an anthology, Asbury Park — Then And Now, put together by Seldin. It was Karen Cassidy, lead vocalist with The Joyful Noyze, who encouraged Clemons to check out Springsteen who was playing with The Bruce Springsteen Band at the nearby Student Prince.

One night we were playing in Asbury Park. I'd heard The Bruce Springsteen Band was nearby at a club called The Student Prince and on a break between sets I walked over there. On-stage, Bruce used to tell different versions of this story but I'm a Baptist, remember, so this is the truth. A rainy, windy night it was, and when I opened the door the whole thing flew off its hinges and blew away down the street. The band were on-stage, but staring at me framed in the doorway. And maybe that did make Bruce a little nervous because I just said, "I want to play with your band," and he said, "Sure, you do anything you want." The first song we did was an early version of "Spirit in the Night". Bruce and I looked at each other and didn't say anything, we just knew. We knew we were the missing links in each other's lives. He was what I'd been searching for. In one way he was just a scrawny little kid. But he was a visionary. He wanted to follow his dream. So from then on I was part of history.

Well before this meeting, however, Clemons and Springsteen had moved within the same circle of musical acquaintances. Norman Seldin had managed and promoted several local bands, including The Motifs who featured Vinnie Roslin, later to play with Springsteen in Steel Mill. On April 22, 1966, Seldin had also organised a battle of the bands competition at the Matawan-Keyport Roller Drome in Matawan, New Jersey. Springsteen was among the entrants playing with his then band, The Castiles. Billy Ryan, who played lead guitar with The Joyful Noyze, also played in The Jaywalkers with Garry Tallent and Steve Van Zandt and Clemons himself had played with Tallent in Little Melvin & The Invaders.

In July 1972, Springsteen began recording his debut album Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. and during breaks from recording, he jammed with Clemons and The Joyful Noyze on at least two occasions at The Shipbottom Lounge in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. When Springsteen then decided to use a tenor saxophone on the songs "Blinded by the Light" and "Spirit in the Night," it was Clemons he called. By October Springsteen was ready to tour and promote Greetings… and he put together a band featuring Clemons, Tallent, Danny Federici and Vini Lopez. Clemons played his last gig with Norman Seldin & The Joyful Noyze at the Club Plaza in Bayville, New Jersey on October 21, 1972. Four days later Clemons made his debut with the formative E Street Band at an unadvertised, impromptu performance at The Shipbottom Lounge. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s Clemons featured prominently on Springsteen albums. On Born to Run he provided memorable saxophone solos on the title track, "Thunder Road" and "Jungleland" while Darkness on the Edge of Town featured another notable solo on "Badlands". The River saw Clemons feature on songs such as "The Ties That Bind", "Sherry Darling", "I Wanna Marry You", "Drive All Night" and "Independence Day" while Born in the U.S.A. saw solos on "Bobby Jean" and "I'm Goin' Down".
At the end of shows, while recognizing members of the E Street Band, Springsteen referred to Clemons as "The Biggest Man You Ever Seen". He sometimes changed this depending on where the E Street Band performs — at their 2009 concert in Glasgow he introduced Clemons as "the biggest Scotsman you've ever seen".

Clemons' final recordings with Springsteen and the E Street Band were featured on Springsteen's 2012 album, Wrecking Ball.

Solo career

Outside of his work with the E Street Band, Clemons recorded with many other artists and had a number of musical projects on his own. The best known of these are his 1985 vocal duet with Jackson Browne on the Top-20 hit single "You're a Friend of Mine", and his saxophone work on Aretha Franklin's 1985 Top-10 hit single "Freeway of Love". He was managed briefly in the 1980s by former Crawdaddy editor Peter Knobler, whose wedding Clemons played with his band, Clarence Clemons & the Red Bank Rockers. During the 1980s Clemons also owned a Red Bank, New Jersey nightclub called Big Man's West. He toured in the first incarnation of Ringo Starr & The All-Starr Band in 1989, singing "You're a Friend of Mine" (dueting with Billy Preston) and an updated rap arrangement of "Quarter to Three." In the mid-1990s, he recorded a Japan-only CD release called Aja and the Big Man "Get It On" with Los Angeles singer/songwriter Aja Kim. In the 2000s, Clemons along with producer Narada Michael Walden, put together a group called The Temple of Soul, releasing a single called 'Anna'. He also recorded with philanthropic teen band Creation. Clemons collaborated with Lady Gaga on the songs "Hair" and "The Edge of Glory" from her album Born This Way, providing a saxophone track and solo. Clarence Clemons occasionally sat in with the Grateful Dead and as recently as April 2011, sat in on several tunes with the Grateful Dead "spinoff" band Furthur during a concert in Boca Raton Florida. Just days before he suffered a major stroke, he shot a music video with Lady Gaga for "The Edge of Glory".