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“Ladies and Gentlemen, the Greatest Human Being That Ever Lived”

“Clarence lived a wonderful life. He carried within him a love of people that made them love him. He created a wondrous and extended family. He loved the saxophone, loved our fans and gave everything he had every night he stepped on stage. His loss is immeasurable and we are honored and thankful to have known him and had the opportunity to stand beside him for nearly forty years. 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.” – Bruce Springsteen

Got a chance to hang with Clarence when he was doing press for one of his solo projects. Nice guy. Here’s a chunk of the piece:

Flip over your vinyl copy of Born to Run and there’s Clarence Clemons, the Big Man. The mighty saxophonist has been a crucial part of Bruce Springsteen’s music ever since joining the E Street Band in 1971. Whether kissing Bruce on the lips or kissing or letting his horn soar on “Bobby Jean” and ”Thunder Road,” Clemons is both the Boss’s loyal lieutenant and custodian of the band’s R&B muse. But now that he’s got his own band – the appropriately named Temple of Soul –  how does he fare as the man in charge?

“I’m a good boss,” says the 61-year-old Clemons. “It’s a matter of who you choose to work with. I’ll take a guy who isnt the greatest musician but loves what he’s doing over a guy who is a virtuoso and don’t give a damn. I’m very fortunate to be associated with the best of humanity with the two bands I play in. It’s great to be a great musician, but being a great person is more important.”

Clemon’s good humor suggests he wont be restructuring his organization anytime soon. And in building the Temple of Soul, he has certainly surrounded himself with great people - eight of them in fact, including two keyboardists and a violinist. With the addition of the four-man Uptown Horns on his new album Live at Asbury Park, it makes for quite a mob onstage. They’re all there to get the party started, he says.

”I dont care if there are five people in the audience or 100,000. I’ll always give 110 percent. With Bruce, we’ve got lots of onstage space to move around. With the Temple of Soul, we haven’t got much, but were more agile!”

When not dodging one another, the Temple of Soul guys play the sweaty, horn-heavy R&B that once throbbed in every bar along Jersey shore. Holding it down is the distinctive wail of Clemons’ horn, which he’s come to call “Jerome.” Whether letting rip on Springsteen’s “Small Things,” or breaking down into sobs on “Livin Without You,” Jerome is a passionate dude. The Temple makes music that should tickle both jam band fans and soul music buffs. At some points – especially the rowdy curtain-raiser ”Washington Bond” – there’s a distinctly Latin flavor provided by John Colbys piano and Tomas Diaz’s percussive forays.

Clemons relocated to Florida six years ago. He says that’s the reason he now sounds like he’s throwing a salsa party on E Street. In search of sunnier climes and great fishing, he discovered the power of the Cuban rhythms, and the festive nature of Caribbean culture.  Read more…

The Minister of Soul,  Secretary of the Brotherhood, probably the next King of England…


Backstreets on CC