E Street Band's Big Man Clarence Clemons Dies

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="http://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.


(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.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor