x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Big Man's place in sax history assured

Clarence Clemons, the legendary E Street Band saxophonist, died on Saturday from complications following a stroke.

Clarence Clemons, the legendary E Street Band saxophonist, died on Saturday from complications following a stroke. He was 69.

An original member of the group, Clemons was known by millions as the "Big Man", a title that was more than justified, not only by his 6ft 5ins frame but also by his distinctive personality and musical sound.

Clemons played alongside Bruce Springsteen for nearly 40 years, after joining the band, the story goes, in 1971 on a stormy night in Asbury Park - or, as the lyrics to Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out put it: "Well the change was made uptown/and the Big Man joined the band." The rest, it seems, was history. Despite suffering from a number of health problems in recent years, he continued to tour with the band and remained a much-loved stage presence. He made his last musical appearance in May, when he performed alongside Lady Gaga on American Idol.

While the onstage banter and camaraderie between The Boss (Springsteen) and Clemons will be remembered, there is little doubt that thanks to the signature sound that he lent to the E Street Band, felt in particular in songs such as Born to Run, Jungleland and Badlands, this man's place in rock history is guaranteed.