June 18, 2011

"I was a born rock ’n’ roll sax player."

Clarence Clemons, RIP.

49 comments:

Shouting Thomas said...

A big loss. A great player and a signature piece of Springsteen's sound.

Ambrose said...

One less good guy in the world.

AJ Lynch said...

Damn. I will be 59 too in a few days.

TMink said...

Wow. The big man is gone. What a player. Rest in peace Clarence.

Trey

Revenant said...

That's terrible news!

Rest in peace, big man.

Sixty Grit said...

He was 69 - born in '42.

AJ Lynch said...

Yes, incredibly he added another great dimension to Springsteen's already great music. It's too bad he's gone. [The news cast I heard reported he was 59 which made me think]. I think I will put on my Rising album tomorrow - I assume he is on it.

MadisonMan said...

Nuts.

victoria said...

Awesome talent, great man. I remember seeing Bruce in the 80's with Clarence. Brings tear to my eyes.

Vicki from Pasadena

RIP Clarence. One more angel in heaven

Chef Mojo said...

Losing Clarence is a hard thing. My take.

Rialby said...

RIP. We'll miss you big man.

Rialby said...

Tenth Avenue Freeze Out playing on iTunes now...

When the change was made uptown and the Big Man joined the band
From the coastline to the city all the little pretties raise their hands.

Synova said...

Are there any links to his playing that aren't bad concert recordings?

I wanted to hear, and the sound on my first four or five you tube tries was so bad it hurt.

Sixty Grit said...

Aretha's Freeway of Love on YouTube features some good playing by Mr. Clemons.

Jim said...

politics aside, this is a loss. My prayers to him and to his family.

Skyler said...

One of my heroes back when I was a saxophonist.

William said...

His presence was like the base in a jazz trio. Like, solid man....Well he had a bunch of wives and lots of good times. He died at sixty nine. Those are centenarian years among rock stars. He lived as long as you could and still leave a good looking corpse.

Fred4Pres said...

I have seen Clarence many times. It is sad to think I will see him no more. RIP Big Man. I am going to drink tonight and play Jungleland.

MamaM said...

Synova, there are two links in the comment section of Chef Mojo's tribute (@10:20) with one leading to a rendition of the National Anthem played on April 1, 2011.

Clyde said...

I was saddened to hear about his recent stroke, and even more so to hear of his passing. His musical contribution enriched us all. He will be missed.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

Wow, the 'Big Man' will surely be missed, and the E Street Band will never be quite the same.

Though I am not a huge Bruce fan, I feel for all people that call Springsteen a favorite (like my wife). Clarence Clemons sax will forever wail in my mind.

Robert Cook said...

Of course it's always sad when a long-beloved public figure dies, especially as in Clemons' case, when it seems he had not reached the full sum of his possible years. RIP.

That said, I never could stand the sound of Springsteen's voice or of of his band. I know he can be a good songwriter due to versions of his songs performed by other artists, but his and his band's own performances always grated.

Conserve Liberty said...

Life list high points, in order of best actual shows (last two are arguably a tie):

5. Beatles - 1966 (couldn't hear a thing)
4. Grateful Dead - 1973
3. Willie Nelson - 1985
2. Mark Knopfler - 2010
1. Bruce Springsteen / Big Man 1981

Clarence wailed forever.

k*thy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
k*thy said...

When the change was made uptown
And the Big Man joined the band
From the coastline to the city
All the little pretties raise their hands
I'm gonna sit back right easy and laugh
When Scooter and the Big Man bust this city in half
With a Tenth Avenue freeze-out, Tenth Avenue freeze-out

RIP, Clarence. Glad I got to see you a few times...

GMay said...

"That said, I never could stand the sound of Springsteen's voice or of of his band. I know he can be a good songwriter due to versions of his songs performed by other artists, but his and his band's own performances always grated."

Wow, common ground with Cook. This articulates my opinion perfectly.

Shouting Thomas said...

That said, I never could stand the sound of Springsteen's voice or of of his band. I know he can be a good songwriter due to versions of his songs performed by other artists, but his and his band's own performances always grated.

Now, we know you are a complete irredeemable commie, Kookie.

I mean, you could aim this criticism at Dylan, but not Springsteen.

Springsteen is a great lyricist and great singer. I've never heard a single musician say anything negative about Springsteen's voice. And the operatic arrangements, particularly of his early bands, are just plain brilliant and incredibly influential.

The only complaint I've got against Springsteen is that I wish he would STFU about his politics. Springsteen is infected with the 60s curse.

NYTNewYorker said...

AJ Lynch said...

Damn. I will be 59 too in a few days.

I just crossed 59 this past March and guess what?....nothing happened!

The Crack Emcee said...

I wasn't going to say anything, so as not to speak ill of the dead, but for once I'm with Cookie - with the exception of a song or two, I'm not moved by Springsteen's music (can't stand his sound) didn't think much of Clarence's playing, and absolutely hate their politics.

There, I've said it. I don't feel good, but I'm glad to get it off my chest. I really didn't like those guys.

I'll still say I'm sorry for your loss.

Phil 3:14 said...

I love Springsteen's music and Cleamons made it better. He will be missed, RIP.
That being said this phrase caught my eye "championship partier". That in combo with "married five times" made me wonder:
it's bad in our politicians but OK in our entertainers?

Jason said...

RIP, Clarence. Maybe you can tune saxophones in heaven!

Shouting Thomas said...

it's bad in our politicians but OK in our entertainers?

Musicians are (and are supposed to be) sensualists. They aren't supposed to make sense.

The job of a musician is to make people feel good and forget their troubles.

Good judgment is not a prerequisite in a musician. In fact, it's probably a deficit.

Robert said...

Not even "Born to Run", Crack?

AJ Lynch said...

Cookie and Crack better not tell Gov. Christie they don't like The Boss's music. Christie has been to like a hundred of his concerts and will kick your librul and conservative butts! :)

AST said...

I bought a couple of his solo albums, but they're on vinyl and I haven listen to them or year. RIP, Big Man.

BT said...

Count me amoung those who were not Springsteen fans. Saw him once for free, was no big deal. I never understood his appeal. Screamin' Jay Hawkins had an album called "Black Music For White People". Springsteen seems to be a safe outlet for whites to try and think they are into black music and be authentic, etc. That said, I am sorry for Clemons passing

Phil 3:14 said...

Springsteen seems to be a safe outlet for whites to try and think they are into black music and be authentic, etc.

Gosh, I never thought of Springsteen's music as "black". Actually I thought of it as "white, working class"

Deborah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Crack Emcee said...

Robert,

Not even "Born to Run", Crack?

Nope. I know it, because I've heard it so much it's now an earworm, but I never liked it. I never liked Springsteen. I've always seen the success of his career as a reaction to Punk, Rap, Techno, and other forms certain whites didn't know how to assess or embrace. (What makes a good rapper, Bruce fans? Anybody? Don't joke around - be serious - how do you tell a good rapper from a hack?)

I'm another one who stared on from the sidelines, thinking "White Affirmative-Action Baby" as the rest of you danced.

I'm glad you had something that made you happy, but, just as much, you were also confessing to throwing in the towel, culturally, as the parade passed you by. (Techno and House are as American as Bruce - coming from Detroit and Chicago - and waaay more innovative, so what was wrong with you?) And then, of course, Bruce cheated and left his wife and all the rest, which just confirmed for me he wasn't an "icon" but nothing but another propped-up poser/liberal asshole. Very sad.

Anyway, the only thing I disliked about Clarence was that he was in Bruce's band. While I wasn't impressed by his playing, it never bothered me, and I, too, am sorry to hear of his passing. With 5 wives, I can't imagine his personality matched his "nice guy" public image, but I've been in music long enough to know how that works:

Live the dream, kiddies,...

BTW - one of the few artists I've met (and toured/traveled with) who was a sweetheart, on and off stage, was the English troubadour, Billy Bragg. Buy his records and you've met the man, giving communism a very good name.

Revenant said...

Gosh, I never thought of Springsteen's music as "black". Actually I thought of it as "white, working class"

Yes, exactly. The only "black" thing about it was the Clemons' skin color (and that of their original keyboardist).

White, working-class urban Jersey. That's Springsteen.

Revenant said...

I've always seen the success of his career as a reaction to Punk, Rap, Techno, and other forms certain whites didn't know how to assess or embrace.

Er, Crack... "Born to Run" was released in 1975, before anyone outside the club scene had heard of punk. By the time rap and techno actually existed, Springsteen had been a commercial success for years.

"Born in the USA" was a cultural phenomenon in its time, and you can think of all sorts of reasons for that, but he'd had a large fan base for years before that.

BT said...

@Phil 3:14 & Revenant
We are probably going to have to agree to disagree on how to categorize Springsteen's music. You are big fans and have an entirely different take on him than I do. I don't doubt that he wanted a white working class sound or that was where he was coming from, etc. My take on him was that it was watered down black music, which is just my opinion for whatever it is worth. So instead of Bruce, give me Solomon Burke or Don Covey. For sax players give me King Curtis.

The Crack Emcee said...

Revenant,

Er, Crack... "Born to Run" was released in 1975, before anyone outside the club scene had heard of punk. By the time rap and techno actually existed, Springsteen had been a commercial success for years.

All I can say is, sincerely, I'm not a fan. In 1975 I was so deep into The Ohio Players there was no way Springsteen's outlook and arrangements could've made a dent or a difference. David Bowie and John Lennon acknowledged what was happening by releasing "Fame" that year - a funk and stylistic masterpiece - why would "Born To Run" matter? (And, before anyone suggests it was as much a black thing as I'm saying Bruce is a white one, I was listening to Elton John of that period pretty heavily, too:) Springsteen was just never creative enough to gain or hold my interest.

Keep in mind, I'm not saying he isn't part of the musical canon, but just not to my particular taste - or anyone else I know, for that matter. I've never played in a band that's covered his material, never met an artist that considered him a musical touchstone (that I know of) and can't think of any bands or genres he's influenced or inspired. As I said, from what I can tell, he's an Affirmative-Action Baby, held up for white self-validation more than anything else. That doesn't bother me - I'm truly glad for him and his audience - but it also doesn't interest me much either.

I'll listen to almost anybody over Springsteen.

Revenant said...

Crack, I'm not arguing with your musical tastes (although I disagree with them too). I'm just saying your explanation for Springsteen's success is wrong. The music you're talking about liking was, first and foremost, dance music. Springsteen did folk-rock. Different purpose, different audience.

As for the notion that white folks were starved for white music that year and propelled "Born to Run" to popularity out of desperation, well, that's just silly. There were plenty of immensely popular white rockers releasing great "white" albums that year -- "Physical Graffiti", "One of These Nights", "Wish You Were Here", "Dressed to Kill", "Toys in the Attic", "Fleetwood Mac", etc.

Phil 3:14 said...

Rev;
"Physical Graffiti"

i don't want to argue musical taste but I have to say Led Zeppelin's black blues roots are pretty obvious. This song would be an example from "Physical Graffiti"

I'll wholeheartedly admit that Zeppelin's core fans were adolescent males (such as myself at the time) but unlike Springsteen their music was most definitely "black" at its core.

(And as I write this I'm thinking
Uh oh, Crack bait)

Revenant said...

i don't want to argue musical taste but I have to say Led Zeppelin's black blues roots are pretty obvious.

All rock music traces back to black music. That's not really a secret. :)

That being said, Physical Graffiti was pretty far from the reworked blues songs of Zeppelin's first two albums.

The Crack Emcee said...

Revenant,

That's fine, though I don't take kindly to the suggestion that, just because he's in a particular genre, you may think I'll slag him for it - I'm not like that. Like I said, Springsteen's almost completely off my radar - he might as well not exist - so all I can tell you is why I think he does. If I'm wrong, no skin off my back, nor am I any closer to understanding the phenomena. And that doesn't bother me, either. He's not worth it.

I remember trying to watch a PBS special with him and a bunch of other folks, and thinking, "Man, this guy is such a waste of time," and I still feel the same way. He's been popular, but I don't think history will be kind to him. Like Justin Beiber or something, creatively, he just doesn't matter.

Phil 3:14,

(And as I write this I'm thinking Uh oh, Crack bait)

Come on, Phil - if you read my posts you know I don't play that game. I even take my fellow blacks to task for doing so. I know what you're saying, but I've got no beef with it. It's just not my fight. Artists can take/borrow/steal (whatever you want to call it) as much as they want, as far as I'm concerned, so long as the result is worth the effort.

And Led Zeppelin definitely qualifies.

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