En kæmpe er død – Clarence Clemons

19. juni 2011

Bruce Springsteen.net bringer den triste nyhed: “It is with overwhelming sadness that we inform our friends and fans that at 7:00 tonight, Saturday, June 18, our beloved friend and bandmate, Clarence Clemons passed away. The cause was complications from his stroke of last Sunday, June 12th.”

Clarence, der bar det kærlige øgenavn ‘The Big Man’, var – som enhver, der kender hans virke i Bruce Springsteens E-Band, vil vide – en kæmpe, bÃ¥de fysisk og musikalsk.

Som så mange andre sorte musikere voksede den unge Clarence op i en familie, hvor den religiøse musik spillede en stor rolle. Gospelmusikken kom ind med modermælken og den faderlige opdragelse. Faderen gav den kun 9-årige Clarence en altsaxofon i julegave og sørgede for, at han fik undervisning i brugen af instrumentet. Dermed blev hans musikalske skæbne så at sige fastlagt.

Efter sigende var det en plade med King Curtis, en anden saxofonkæmpe, der fik Clemens sporet ind pÃ¥ rockmusikken. Og allerede som 18-Ã¥rig blev han involveret i pladeindspilninger med funkbandet Tyrone Ashley’s Funky Music Machine, som senere kom til at danne grundstammen i det siden ret velkendte Parliament-Funkadelic. Nogenlunde samtidig kom Clemens ogsÃ¥ med i sit første band, The Vibratones, som – helt efter bogen – excellerede i coverversioner af bl.a. James Brownnumre. Vibratones var Clemens ‘ læreplads. Her blev han i fire Ã¥r og fik styr pÃ¥ sit instrument, som i mellemtiden var blevet en tenorsax.

Historien om sit indtog i The E-Street Band har Clemens selv fortalt så levende, at man ikke behøver at gøre ham det efter. Man ser det for sig:
One night we were playing in Asbury Park. I’d heard The Bruce Springsteen Band was nearby at a club called The Student Prince and on a break between sets I walked over there. On-stage, Bruce used to tell different versions of this story but I’m a Baptist, remember, so this is the truth. A rainy, windy night it was, and when I opened the door the whole thing flew off its hinges and blew away down the street. The band were on-stage, but staring at me framed in the doorway. And maybe that did make Bruce a little nervous because I just said, “I want to play with your band,” and he said, “Sure, you do anything you want.” The first song we did was an early version of “Spirit In The Night”. Bruce and I looked at each other and didn’t say anything, we just knew. We knew we were the missing links in each other’s lives. He was what I’d been searching for. In one way he was just a scrawny little kid. But he was a visionary. He wanted to follow his dream. So from then on I was part of history.”
Den skinbarlige sandhed om, hvordan The Big Man trådte ind i Springsteens Band. Og resten er, som man siger, historie.

Fra 1972 , hvor han formelt kom med i Springsteens band,  ragede Clemens op i Springsteens musik. Med sit meget fysiske og kraftfulde spil satte han sit tydelige aftryk på musikken fra Springsteens debutplade Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. (lyt til klassikeren Blinded By The Light, hvis du er i tvivl) og frem.

Ved siden af jobbet i E Street Band havde Clemons sin egen solokarriere og spillede også gladeligt sammen med mange andre, fx. Gary U. S.Bonds, Ringo Starr, Aretha Franklin og Jackson Browne. Senest spillede han såmæn med på Lady Gagas album Born This Way fra 2010. Han havde også tid til at optræde som skuespiller på film og på tv.

Clemons var gift hele fem gange og blev far til fire drenge, som nu må savne deres far. Clemons blev 69 år.

Springsteen får de sidste ord.

“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.” (fra hjemmesiden)

Fotoet ovenfor er et tidligt Pressefoto.

Torben mindes ogs̴ The Big Man Рher.

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