Fast Facts

  • Took up the saxophone when he received an alto sax for Christmas at age 9; he later switched to tenor sax because King Curtis, one of his idols, played it.
  • Attended college on a football-and-music scholarship.
  • Prevented from pursuing a career in pro football by a knee injury he suffered in a car accident.
  • Worked as a counselor in a state-run youth home in New Jersey.
  • Joined Bruce Springsteen's not-yet-named E Street Band in 1972; "10th Avenue Freeze-Out" explains how it happened (he's the "Big Man" to Springsteen's "Bad Scooter").
  • Was introduced last—and always to thunderous applause—at E Street concerts by Springsteen, who often egged on the crowd with "do I have to say his name?!"
  • Owned a rock club, Big Man's West, in Red Bank, NJ, during the early 1980s.
  • Fronted his own group, Clarence Clemons and the Red Bank Rockers, during the 1980s. 
  • Scored a Top 20 hit in 1985 with "You're a Friend of Mine," a duet with Jackson Browne.
  • Jammed with President Clinton at the 1993 inaugural ball.
  • Published a memoir, Big Man, in 2009.
  • Played saxophone on records by Gary U.S. Bonds, Aretha Franklin, Lady Gaga, Twisted Sister and others; and performed on stage with the likes of Ringo Starr and the Grateful Dead.
  • Little Kids Rock, an organization that helps schools provide music instruction, gave him a 2009 "Big Man of the Year Award" for his assistance.
  • His death in 2011 from stroke complications set off widespread grief among rock fans and heartfelt tributes from the likes of Bono, Eddie Vedder and Springsteen (who recalled him as "my great friend, my partner.")

Relationships

  • Charles Clemons — Son
  • Thelma Clemons — Mother
  • Clarence Clemons Sr. — Father
  • Christopher Clemons — Son
  • Victoria — Wife
  • Jake Clemons — Nephew
  • Jarod Clemons — Son
  • Clarence Clemons III — Son

College

  • Maryland State College, Princess Anne, VA (1964)

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Details

  • Birth Name: Clarence Anicholas Clemons
  • Birth Place: Norfolk, VA
  • Birthday: January 11, 1942, Capricorn
  • Died: June 18, 2011
  • Profession: Saxophonist
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