Everyone in the music business is tweeting or posting something about the passing of Clarence Clemons and while I only met the man in person...face to face...one time, I did see him on stage with the E Street Band many many times. When I heard about his stroke the week before, I thought that he would pull out of it. I honestly did.
He was bigger than life, and as Bruce used to say when introducing him on stage "It's the Master of the Universe," "Socrates of the Saxophone," "King of the World," "The Big Kahuna," "Prince of the City" and the "Duke of Paducah." Just one of those people who you think will never leave too early. I know the age of people isn't really relevant in these things, but he left us too early.
The E Street Band were going to go out on tour in the Fall, and now, who knows? I can't even imagine who they would replace Clarence with. Danny Federici passed in 2008 and was replaced, but Clarence was so hugely visible and nobody played with the power of the Big Man.
I didn't hear the news via any electronic media because it was a weekend and we had things to do around the house. I picked up the Sunday paper and was enjoying a cup of coffee when I read the story. It just hit me in the gut. Another one of those moments where you realize things have changed and you're not ready. I put on "Born to Run" and listened while doing things around the house with tears pouring down my cheeks. I don't like this kind of change.
But of course the music and memories live on. Thank God for that.
When people ask me what is the best concert I ever went to it's an easy answer. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the Portland Paramount in 1975. It was after the "I have seen the future of Rock and Roll" comment and after Springsteen had appeared on the cover of Newsweek and Time simultaneously. Four friends drove to Portland from Eugene to see the show and it changed our lives forever. No show has even come close to how I felt that night. I have a personal "Top 10" list of shows, but that show is so far above the rest because it was deeply moving, and took me to a place that no concert before or after ever did.
So, rest well dear Clarence. The world is missing you big time big man!