Clarence Clemons, the beloved saxophone player for the E Street Band, died on Saturday after being hospitalized from complications of the stroke suffered last Sunday at his Singer Island, Florida home. He was 69.
Last week Bruce Springsteen acknowledged that the situation was "serious," but went on to say that he was hopeful. In a statement released on Saturday he called the loss of his friend and musical compatriot "immeasurable."
"We are honored and thankful to have known him and had the opportunity to stand beside him for nearly 40 years," Springsteen said in a statement posted on his website. "He was my great friend, my partner and with Clarence at my side, my band and I were able to tell a story far deeper than those simply contained in our music. His life, his memory, and his love will live on in that story and in our band."
Called "The Big Man" for his towering 6-foot-5-inch stature and for his larger than life presence, he was the humanizing factor in this iconic American rock band, the member who made fans feel that he was one of them, someone who laughed loud, wasn't shy about showing his big heart. In addition to his 40-year long career with the E Street Band, he released seven solo albums, performing with artists as such as the Grateful Dead, the Jerry Garcia Band, and Ringo Starr's All Star Band, and recording with a stellar range of artists from Aretha Franklin, Roy Orbison, Jackson Browne, and Lady Gaga. He and Browne scored a duet hit with "You're A Friend of Mine." Last month he performed with Gaga on two songs on the American Idol season finale from her Born This way album.
He has had a number of heath issues in recent years, suffering a detached retina, undergoing double knee replacement surgery in 2008, and spinal surgery in 2010. It seemed he was bouncing back from his heath woes, telling the The Associated Press last year that he was overcoming the chronic pain and post-surgical depression.
"Of all the surgeries I've had, there's not much left to operate on. I am totally bionic," he said. "God will give you no more than you can handle. This is all a test to see if you are really ready for the good things that are going to come in your life. All this pain is going to come back and make me stronger."
Unfortunately that was not to be, although he will live on in the memory of fans and loved ones, a little bit of him reappearing every time you hear his solo on "Jungleland," something he once said took him 16 hours to master. He is survived by his fifth wife, Victoria, and four sons: Clarence Jr., Charles, Christopher, and Jared.