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E Street Band sax man Clarence Clemons 'improving' after massive stroke in Florida

 Clarence Clemons with Bruce Sports Arena 2009 E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons continues to battle the after-effects of a massive stroke he suffered over the weekend at his home in Florida, but associates on Monday said they are more hopeful about his prospects for a recovery than they had been initially.

“Yesterday it did not look good at all,” a source described as “a close friend” told the Bruce Springsteen fan site Backstreets.com.  “Today... miracles are happening. His vital signs are improving. He's responsive. His eyes are welling up when we're talking to him. He was paralyzed on his left side, but now he's squeezing with his left hand. This is the best news we've heard since [the stroke] happened — it's nothing short of miraculous. The next five days will still be critical. But he's a fighter."

The site said Clemons, 69, underwent two brain surgeries after the stroke and was responsive and in stable condition but still seriously ill.

Clemons has been an indispensible component of the E Street Band, both for his beefy tenor sax work in such Springsteen staple songs as “Born to Run” and “Jungleland” and his imposing presence on stage with the group, where he has often served as a playful and big-hearted foil to the band’s leader.

Springsteen invoked Clemons’ familiar nickname — and his role in the band — in “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out”: “When the change was made uptown and the Big Man joined the band/From the coastline to the city all the little pretties raise their hands.” And Clemons is pictured at Springsteen's side on the fold-out cover on his 1975 breakthrough album "Born to Run."

As Springsteen explored different musical settings in the '80s and '90s, which periodically put the E Street Band on hiatus, Clemons recorded several solo albums and collaborated with other artists on theirs, including Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Ensemble, Aretha Franklin and Jackson Browne. Most recently he lent his sax to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” album.

-- Randy Lewis

Photo: Clarence Clemons with Bruce Springsteen during the E Street Band's 2009 tour stop at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (12)

Hope he gets well soon, any kind of illness is bad but especially a stroke :(

I hope you get better real soon, Mr. Clemons!

Check out this Riverfront Times blog post of a compilation of Clemons' 5 best saxophone solos with the E Street Band.


Best wishes to the Big Man getting well soon.

God bless Clarence. I hope he gets well soon and gets to play sax again.

Prayers are with you Big Man!

Mr Clemons, So sadden to hear of your stroke. I have enjoyed your musin with E street band for 35+ years and am looking forward to many more. Jungleland solo is awsome. I've introduced you to my grandchildren. Wish the all the best. A true fan, Faye

I pray for Clarence recovery. He is so much a part of the E Street Band!!

Best wishes to Mr. Clemons along with our prayers!! Many people don't realize that it was he who gave Bruce the nickname "Boss" but for a reason different than you would think. In the early 1970s when the band was struggling, Bruce would sometimes have trouble "making payroll" for the band. it was Clarence who would approach Mr. Springsteen on Fridays and say "Hey BOSS when are we are going to get paid?"
And thus, a life long nickname was born.

such a wonderful player as well as a great person. My prayers are w/ you today and the future. I have loved you for years. Get better soon so we can see you in concert once again.


Clarence, I met you many years ago backstage at the Oakland Coliseum with your friend Gaeta. Get well soon. We are all thinking of you and praying for a quick recovery. Stay strong! Peace and love, Vinny

Clarence passed away the evening of the 18th ... God Bless he and his family


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