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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Big man down

We were saddened to read that legendary saxophonist Clarence Clemons, best known for his work as the perfect sideman and stage foil to a musician named Bruce Springsteen, has had a stroke and is laid up in a Florida hospital. We've written about Clarence on this blog several times, as you can see here. We have nothing but affection for the big guy from Red Bank and hope he gets back to where he belongs, eating caviar, as fast as you can say "Kid, you better get the picture." Even Lady Gaga gets it.

Comments (4)

One of the best around. Let us wish him well.

I saw this and felt terrible. I also talked with an old saxophone player friend from a bygone band. We've discussed the medical aspect of this before. Two famous saxophone players who had strokes - in their cases fatal - were Stanley Turrentine and Junior Cannonball Adderley. This might be an occupational hazard and it makes sense. You're putting a lot of pressure on your circulatory system. Cannonball Adderley who played sax on the ultra-soulful "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" died when he was only 46.

The Big Man is still alive and that's the good part, but it's profoundly sad to imagine him having to quit playing.
Still, look at Quincy Jones. All he wanted to be was a trumpet player, but a brain aneurysm - possibly caused from the strain of playing - propelled him on a new path. Life is a series of giving up things you love to do. Then finding something else. That's the gig.

I'd love to think of Clarence bouncing back from this, but there is a time to be responsible. If he does survive, he may have to choose living over trying to play. I hope I'm wrong. It's a tough deal, Jack, and a profound turn of events. Sorry.

Here is a lil sax fix for ya. The magic happens at 2.22 into the tune and omg it will send chills up your spine.


Curtis Amy? I'm ashamed to say I wasn't familiar with the name. Quite a bio he threw together. Back at the dorm in college we were deep into King Curtis and Junior Walker.
My favorite image of Clarence Clemons is when he finishes the solo in "Freeway of Love" sung by Aretha Franklin. He turns his head quicky to the beat and it is coolus maximus - a state of coolness that can not be challenged...ever.
I can guess what the E Street Band fans are thinking..okay, sure, those other guys? Awesome musicians. But Clarence Clemons? He's...well, he's Clarence Clemons. This is different.

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