WYSO

E Street Band's Big Man Clarence Clemons Dies

Originally published on June 19, 2011 9:47 am
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JACKI LYDEN, Host:

Clarence Clemons' saxophone blasted across the 1980s musical landscape like a siren.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOU'RE A FRIEND OF MINE")

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOU'RE A FRIEND OF MINE")

LYDEN: Clemons re-recorded this 1985 hit, "You're a Friend of Mine," for a live album in 2003. He talked to NPR after its release.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

M: This album is special for me 'cause it does capture me at my best live.

LYDEN: Standing at 6 feet 5 inches with bulging biceps, Clemons was known as the Big Man. But he was the man behind Bruce Springsteen in the E Street band. And when Springsteen was inducted into the 1999 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he paid tribute to Clemons.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

M: The night I met Clarence, a sound came out of his horn that - it seemed to rattle the glasses behind the bar and threatened to blow out the back wall. And I knew I'd found my sax player.

LYDEN: Clemons' saxophone spiraled across musical genres, from the Grateful Dead to Aretha Franklin to Lady Gaga.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LYDEN: In a 1995 interview, Clemons said:

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

M: When you die, we go back to the white energy of all the white energy, white heat that's flung against the sky and becomes a star. Death is not just the end, it's the beginning.

LYDEN: Clemons died last night from complications associated with a stroke he suffered a week ago. He was 69 years old.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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