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Steven Tyler and Clarence Clemons rock BEA

May 29, 2009 |  7:19 am

Steventyler It began, as you might expect, like a rock show -- a half-hour late. Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Clarence Clemons, the saxophone-playing “Big Man” from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, were the keynote speakers on the opening night of Book Expo America, and they didn’t disappoint. Both rockers, who were interviewed by Chuck Klosterman, have memoirs coming out in the fall -- “Big Man: Real Life and Tall Tales” from Clemons and co-author Don Reo, and the perfectly titled “Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?” from Tyler.

The highlight: Clemons playing the sax solo from the classic rock anthem “Jungleland” in pieces, talking about its evolution more than 30 years ago during a 16-hour all-night session, and how each part came to be. “We really got to know each other ... after 16 hours of playing this solo every way that it was possible to take those notes and put them together,” Clemons said.

Clemons also dropped a fun historical tidbit that is in the book. Robert De Niro, who worked with Clemons in the 1977 movie “New York, New York,” stole a Springsteen mannerism for his Travis Bickle character in 1976’s “Taxi Driver” -- the finger-pointing gesture as he says, “Who, me? You talking to me?” It was the same response Springsteen used in the early concerts when the audience began chanting, “Bruce!”

Tyler is still working on his book, which he says will be more personal than the material covered in the band autobiography, “Walk this Way.” Tyler appeared with his buddy Mark Hudson and the session was less focused than the Clemons interview as Hudson seemed to keep trying to steal the limelight. A running gag developed after each interruption, when Tyler would turn back to Klosterman and say: “Anyway....”

Tyler didn’t reveal much, other than he believes he views the world differently from everyone. “When you live with your eyes open, the normal everyday thing becomes so much more,” he said, channeling his inner Dr. Phil.

-- Scott Martelle

Photo: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

A classic performance of "Jungleland":