The Big Man

Oh, boy.  We’ve lost plenty of rock icons — many before their time — but the loss of Clarence Clemons will surely leave a mark for loyal E Streeters.  As the soul half of the heart and soul of the band, Clarence was every bit as important, popular and iconic as Bruce himself.

For me, it started one winter’s night in 1973, my freshman year at Glassboro State College (now Rowan University).  I remember lots of buzz about a concert and a “big” act; finally, they announced it : Bruce Springsteen and The E Street band.  Our reaction, of course, was: Bruce Who? and The What?

They burned the building down that night and became the soundtrack of my life for the next 35 plus years.  The band was great, Bruce was terrific, but the big, black guy playing the sax?  In a rock band?  Where’d he come from?

I’d never really seen or heard anything like it and the camaraderie was something else I hadn’t seen before but we’d all soon come to love and expect it.  As one rock writer said years ago, seeing the E Street band is like going to a concert with 20,000 of your best friends.

Now, after more than 150 or so shows for me over these past years, one of my best friends is gone.  I suspect in time we’ll get new music and more live shows from Bruce and some band, but not this band, never again the E Street Band.

E Street is permanently closed.

10th Avenue is forever frozen.

And the poets down here don’t write nothing at all, they just stand back and let all be.

RIP, Big Man.


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