Legendary saxophonist Clarence Clemons who traveled with the Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band for decades, died Saturday following complications of a stroke the week before. He was 69.
He was so much more than a part of the band. The “Big Man” could be considered a sidekick to “The Boss.”
Carol Miller, the legendary Classic Rock jock, who does the night shift on Q 104.3 (WAXQ), saw the Clemons/Springsteen partnership blossom, as Bruce’s first album hit the shelves in 1973.
Miller was still working at Philadelphia’s WMMR when the future of Rock was on display.
“Bruce came on first, alone in those early shows, and did ‘Does the Bus Stop…’ Then, he would bring out the band,” Miller recalls. “When Clarence started playing, to be completely honest yet corny, he literally blew everyone away.”
Another longtime rock DJ is Dennis Elsas who spent many years spinning Bruce’s hits (and more obscurer tracks) at WNEW-FM.
Elsas, who now hosts a weekday afternoon show on WFUV, interviewed Clemons several times during their careers. Back in 1975, Elsas had his first talk with Clemons backstage at The Bottom Line.
Following the death of the great saxophonist, Elsas, who also jocks on the Sirius/XM Classic Vinyl each day, wrote on his Facebook page, “Very sad to hear of Clarence ‘s passing. He was a one of a kind–always dynamic in performance–gracious and warm whenever we met.”‘
In 2004, at WFUV, Elsas again interviewed Clemons about his place in rock and roll history as one of the defining saxophonists of his era.
“I’m gonna feel I had a part in bringing it back, and keeping it alive actually,” Clemons told Elsas. “I take it very seriously.”
(You can listen to the the interview in its entirety.)
“My condolences to his family, all his friends, and of course especially Bruce and the band,” Miller says. “Everyone had been pulling for him.”
Photo credit: DennisElsas.com