Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

The Boss honours band's Big Man

Bruce Springsteen has paid tribute to his late bandmate

Bruce Springsteen has paid tribute to E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons, his friend of more than four decades, at a private funeral in a Florida church.

The two-hour service for 69-year-old Clarence, known as the Big Man and The Boss's main foil on stage over their long careers, was held at Palm Beach's Royal Poinciana Chapel. Faint strains of music could be heard outside the small grey church.

Clarence, who died from stroke complications on Saturday at his home in Singer Island, Florida, had suffered from numerous medical problems over the years.

He needed spinal surgery to relieve back pain and had two knee replacements. In recent years, he often needed to rest on stools on stage to play sax and percussion.

Bruce, among those delivering eulogies, spoke of his long kinship with Clarence, according to those leaving the church.

Singer Jackson Browne and members of the E Street Band, including guitarist Steven Van Zandt and Bruce's wife, Patti Scialfa, also were on hand. Pat Riley, general manager of the Miami Heat basketball team, was seen leaving the church.

Clarence's booming saxophone solos became a signature sound for the E Street Band on many key songs, especially on Springsteen's breakthrough album in 1975, Born To Run.

The saxophonist's legacy and place in the band was captured in the song Tenth Avenue Freeze Out. It has the famous lyric, "When the change was made uptown and the Big Man joined the band. From the coastline to the city, all the little pretties raised their hands".

The anthem is often used to introduce E Street members during concerts.

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