Though rock legend Bruce Springsteen parted ways with the E Street Band in 1989, fans
have clamored for a reunion. Now there is hope. Springsteen representatives
announced at the end of last year that the E Street Band -- including Clarence Clemons,
whom Springsteen calls the "big man" -- will tour in the near future to support the recently
released Springsteen box set, Tracks.
Clemons was born 57 years ago today in Norfolk, Va. He became a football player, but a
knee injury canceled his pro career. Also a tenor saxophonist, Clemons was recruited by
Springsteen to replace the initial brass section of the early '70s Bruce Springsteen Band.
But the group was short-lived, and Springsteen was soon auditioning for record labels
as a solo act.
After signing with Columbia, Springsteen enlisted Clemons and much of his early band
to work on a good deal of his debut, Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. (1973).
Clemons remained with the band as it evolved into the E Street Band and earned its
reputation for marathon live shows. The group was featured on The Wild, the Innocent
and the E Street Shuffle (1973), but wasn't billed as the E Street Band until
Springsteen's 1975 breakthrough, Born to Run.
Clemons had an easy rapport with Springsteen, and his amiable nature and talent made
him a popular member of the E Street Band. An early, notable vocal appearance by
Clemons is his "ho-ho-ho-ing" in Springsteen's famous take of "Santa Claus Is Comin'
To Town." Springsteen talks to Clemons during this song, a routine the two often
engaged in during the E Street Band's long and enormously popular gigs.
At the height of Springsteen mania, Clemons sang the hit duet with Jackson Browne,
"You're A Friend Of Mine," which went top 20 in 1986. His solo LPs include 1983's
Rescue, 1984's The Chief and 1985's Hero.
At the end of the '80s, Springsteen felt he needed a fresh sound, so he put the E Street
Band on hiatus. Clemons issued 1989's Night With Mr. C., which failed to find a
large audience. The Peacemaker (1995) didn't fare much better.
In the meantime, Springsteen assembled the band in the studio to cut three tracks for his
1995 Greatest Hits CD, including "Secret Garden" and "Blood Brothers." The E
Street Band also was featured in the Springsteen documentary, "Blood Brothers."
Two years later, Clemons made news for spending some jail time for allegedly beating
his girlfriend. Though more positively, Clemons contributed the track "Savin' Up" to the
1997 LP One Step Up Two Steps Back, a various artists compilation of
Last year, Clemons appeared in the film "Blues Brothers 2000." His deft saxophone
playing is displayed prominently on such Tracks cuts as "Be True" and
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Other birthdays: Naomi Judd, 53; Frederick Dennis Greene (Sha Na Na), 50; Vicki
Peterson (ex-Bangles), 41; and Mary J. Blige, 28.