While the accidental death of American daredevil Ryan Dunn is all over the news today, another loss of life from the weekend is impacting me far more greatly and deserves recognition as we head back into the work week.
Clarence Clemons, the backbone of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, might not have been as young as Dunn when he died from a stroke this weekend, but his passing is still tragic. Clemons wasn’t just a member of Springsteen’s band, but was an accomplished saxophonist who played with the likes of Jackson Browne, The Grateful Dead and even Twisted Sister. Though his range as a musician was legendary, he was also an accomplished actor and rarely missed an opportunity to give back to the community. Recently, Clemons helped to form an initiative aimed at getting instruments to children in the inner city to help find them a way out, just a small example of his commitment to helping other.
“The Big Man,” as he was known to friends, family, and enamored fans, will not only be remembered by those he leaves behind, but to everyone he has helped influence with his music. His style and play not only affected those who play saxophone today, but also musicians from punk rock artists to blues guitarists and everything in between. His former band leader Bruce Springsteen said it best, adding “His loss is immeasurable and we are honored and thankful to have known him and had the opportunity to stand beside him for nearly forty 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.”
So here’s to you, Big Man. Thank you for all your great music and spirit. If there’s any justice, you’ll be playing for us again in heaven.
Clarence Anicholas Clemons, Jr. (January 11, 1942 – June 18, 2011)