Tenor Saxophone master Clarence Clemons, the "Big Man," passed away today, after suffering a stroke. He was 69 years old.
His style, whether as soloist, or as a sideman with Bruce Springsteen, harked back to the earliest of rock and roll tenor players, and touched into Clemons' roots in church-based gospel, and into R&B, yet changed over the years, bringing more to his palette of sounds. He had a fascinating biography, both in music and outside - he was an offensive center for the New Jersey Generals professional football team, and was active in helping troubled young people. Here he is playing on the David Letterman show, years ago, and being interviewed by Letterman:
Many musicians I know (like Tamra Spivey) are posting youtubes of his solo in Jungleland:
Here he is, just two and a half months ago, performing the national anthem, at opening night of the 2011 MLB season, a game between the Marlins and the Mets - a fitting tribute to a former professional athlete: