Clarence Clemons, the larger-than-life saxophone player for the E Street Band who was one of the key influences in Bruce Springsteen's life and music through four decades, has died. He was 69.
Clemons died on Saturday night after being hospitalized about a week ago following a stroke at his home in Singer Island, Florida.
Bruce Springsteen acknowledge the dire situation earlier this week, but said then he was hopeful. He called the loss "immeasurable."
"We are honored and thankful to have known him and had the opportunity to stand beside him for nearly 40 years," Springsteen said on his website. "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."
Known as the Big Man for his imposing 6-foot-5-inch, 270-plus pound frame, Clemons and his ever-present saxophone spent much of his life with The Boss, and his booming saxophone solos became a signature sound for the E Street Band on many key songs, including Jungleland, a triumphant solo he spent 16 hours perfecting, and Born To Run.
In recent years, Clemons had been slowed by health woes. He endured major spinal surgery in January 2010 and, at the 2009 Super Bowl, Clemons rose from a wheelchair to perform with Springsteen after double knee replacement surgery.
But his health seemed to be improving. In May, he performed with Lady Gaga on the season finale of "American Idol," and performed on two songs on her "Born This Way" album.
An original member - and the oldest member - of the E Street Band, Clemons also performed with the Grateful Dead, the Jerry Garcia Band, and Ringo Starr's All Star Band. He recorded with a wide range of artists including Aretha Franklin, Roy Orbison and Jackson Browne. He also had his own band called the Temple of Soul.
Born in Norfolk, Virginia, Clemons was the grandson of a Baptist minister and began playing the saxophone when he was 9. He published a memoir, Big Man: Real Life and Tall Tales, in 2009 and continued to perform.
He is the second member of the E Street Band to pass away: In 2008, Danny Federici, the keyboardist for the band, died at age 58 of melanoma.