The initials RIP should stand for “Rock In Peace,” because Clarence Clemons was, by his own admission, “a born rock ‘n’ roll sax player.”
The Big Man, as he was often called by bandmate Bruce Springsteen, died June 19 at the age of 69, of complications from a stroke.
Clemons was the saxophone voice of Springsteen’s E Street Band. His remarkably smooth, but driving sax riffs can be heard in Springsteen classics such as “Born to Run” and “Thunder Road” and more recently in songs like “My City in Ruins.”
In addition, Clemons was a talented studio musician who joined artists ranging from Jackson Browne to Gary U.S. Bonds to Aretha Franklin on recordings. Most recently, he backed up Lady Gaga.
But it was with Springsteen that Clemons had the most success and influence. It wasn’t just that he was a great musician. He and Springsteen called each other brothers. The Boss also described Clemons as the King of the World and Master of the Universe.
It’s hard to imagine future Springsteen concerts without Clemons, joking and smiling, bouncing riffs off Springsteen’s guitar.
The Daily Sentinel, Grand Junction, Colo. (June 23)