Clarence Clemons, "the Big Man" of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, died Saturday of complications of a recent stroke. He was 69.
The saxophone player fell ill at his Florida home last Sunday and later underwent two brain surgeries. His situation appeared to be looking up Monday, according to a friend who told Springsteen magazine Backstreets that his vital signs were improving and he had some minor movement on his paralyzed left side.
"He has his wonderfully supportive wife, Victoria, excellent doctors and healthcare professionals, and is surrounded by friends and family," Springsteen said in a statement Tuesday. Clemons reportedly took a turn for the worse later in the week.
In recent years, Clemons had suffered back and hip problems, and underwent double knee-replacement surgery in 2008. The band's eight-month world tour that year was "pure hell," he told Rolling Stone earlier this year.
Clemons, who had worked with Springsteen on and off since the early 1970s, was the man behind the E Street Band's signature sax sound, notably on the "Born to Run" album. Clemons recently collaborated with Lady Gaga, appearing on her "Born This Way" album and hitting the "American Idol" stage with Mother Monster.
In the words of the L.A. Times' Randy Lewis, Clemons often served as "a playful and big-hearted foil" to Springsteen onstage.
Read the Los Angeles Times' full obituary here, and feel free to share your thoughts and memories in comments.
-- Christie D'Zurilla
Reuters contributed to this report.
Photo: Clarence Clemons in October 2009. Credit: Lucas Jackson / Reuters