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Clarence Clemons, 1942-2011

Fender is saddened by the passing of the Big Man.

Clarence Clemons, longtime tenor saxophonist for Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band, passed away in Florida on June 18 at age 69.

Clemons was a beloved figure whose imposing 6-foot 5-inch, 270-pound figure earned him his nickname in the Springsteen camp and belied his warmth, humor and endearing personality. The great chemistry he generated with Springsteen onstage and the deep and enduring friendship they shared off were hallmarks of the band’s appeal and success, and his signature saxophone work was a defining element of the E-Street Band’s sound.

Clemons was born in Norfolk, Va. He began playing saxophone at age nine, although his dream was to be a football player; he played for Maryland State College and was set for a tryout with the Cleveland Browns before an auto accident prevented him from playing. Then concentrating on music, he met rising star Springsteen in the early 1970s and joined his band in 1973. Clemons subsequently made memorable musical contributions to Springsteen albums including Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. (1973); The Wild, the Innocent & the E-Street Shuffle (1973); Born to Run (1975); Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978); The River (1980); Born in the U.S.A. (1984); Tunnel of Love (1987); The Rising (2002); Magic (2007) and Working on a Dream (2009).

Clemons was the longest serving member of the E-Street Band. He is the second member to pass away; keyboardist Danny Federici died in April 2008.

In the clip below shot at Madison Square Garden in 2009, Clemons plays one of his most famous solos, from “Jungleland,” the epic closing song from 1975’s Born to Run:

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