The rock world paid tribute to late Bruce Springsteen foil Clarence Clemons over the weekend, following the great saxophone player’s death on Saturday.
Among the biggest names honoring the towering figure known as “The Big Man” were U2, who tipped their hats to Clemons on Saturday at the end of their gig at Anaheim’s Angel Stadium during their encore performance of “Moment of Surrender.” Singer Bono asked the audience to remember Clemons by holding their glowing cell phones up and said, “This is a special moment we want to share with you right now. Let’s take the lights down, take out your phones. I want you to think about the beautiful, symphonic sound that came out of one man’s saxophone … I want you to think about Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, brothers. I want you to think of Clarence Clemons. This man just carried music, and music carried him until this day.”
Bono, a master of rock-and-roll toasting, ended the touching remembrance by singing a few verses of the legendary Springsteen tune “Jungleland,” which featured a memorable solo from Clemons. Reading from a sheet of paper, Bono recited the blue-collar bard lyrics in his Irish brogue as if reading the roughneck poetry of a New Jersey Yeats, as guitarist the Edge played some chugging guitar chords behind him.
Also paying homage were Coldplay, who posted a video of the E Street Band performing “Jungleland,” with a message from singer Chris Martin, who wrote, “RIP our favorite saxophone player, Clarence ‘Big Man’ Clemons.”
Twitter lit up with a number of tips to Clemons, including Public Enemy leader Chuck D, who wrote simply, “R.I.P. Big Clarence”; former Guns ‘N Roses guitarist Slash, who called Clemons “one of the finest musicians/people in this business”; and the Fray, who tweeted, “Sad day. R.I.P. Clarence Clemons. You will be missed.”
Springsteen was among the first to weigh in on the loss of his close friend and longtime musical partner in a blog on his official site that read, “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.”
The love for Clemons came from wide and far and included Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, who tweeted, “The Great Clarence Clemons. Thank you so much Big Man for sweetening the sound of our planet with your sax and your soul.”
Clemons died on Saturday at the age of 69 of complications from a stroke suffered last week. In addition to playing on 20 albums in Springsteen’s catalog, Clemons also played with artists ranging from Jackson Browne to Ringo Starr and most recently Lady Gaga . He’s also appeared in films like “New York, New York” and “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” as well as TV shows like “The Wire” and “The Simpsons.”
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