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E Street Band's Big Man Clarence Clemons Dies

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E Street Band's Big Man Clarence Clemons Dies

E Street Band's Big Man Clarence Clemons Dies

E Street Band's Big Man Clarence Clemons Dies

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/137278501/137278558" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Clarence Clemons, the legendary saxophone player in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, has died at the age of 69. He was hospitalized a week ago after suffering a stroke. Guest host Jacki Lyden has a remembrance.

JACKI LYDEN, host:

(Soundbite of song, "You're a Friend of Mine") ..TEXT: Clarence Clemons' saxophone blasted across the 1980s musical landscape like a siren.

(Soundbite of song, Youre a Friend of Mine)

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

(Soundbite of archived broadcast)

Mr. CLARENCE CLEMONS (Musician): 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)

Mr. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN (Musician): 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)

Mr. CLEMONS: 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)

LYDEN: You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.

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