Clarence Clemons dies at age 69

By Marc A. Greenberg

Clarence Clemons, the saxophonist in the E Street Band with Bruce Springsteen, has passed away at the age of 69.

The cause was complications from a stroke, which he suffered last Sunday.

Clarence Anicholas Clemons was born on Jan. 11, 1942, in Norfolk, Va.  He was an athlete and attended Maryland State College (now the University of Maryland Eastern Shore) on a scholarship for football and music. He tried out for the Dallas Cowboys and the Cleveland Browns, but a knee injury ended his hopes for a football career.

After meeting Bruce Springsteen at a bar in Asbury Park, New Jersey in 1971, Clemons was always by the Boss’ side.

The story of Clemons first meeting with Bruce has become an E Street legend.  As the story goes, a lightning storm was rolling through Asbury Park one night in 1971 while Bruce was on stage, playing solo.  As Clarence entered the bar, the storm blew the front door off its hinges and Bruce was startled by the figure at the door. (Clarence was 6’4″ and about 250 lbs.). Clemons invited himself onstage to play along, and the two were together from that point on.

“I swear I will never forget that moment,” Clemons later recalled in an interview. “I felt like I was supposed to be there. It was a magical moment. He looked at me, and I looked at him, and we fell in love. And that’s still there.”