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Clarence "The Big Man" Clemons, saxophone player for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, passed away Saturday night at the age of 69, less than a week after suffering a massive stroke. An announcement on Springsteen's website reads: "It is with overwhelming sadness that we inform our friends and fans that at 7:00 tonight, Saturday, June 18, our beloved friend and bandmate, Clarence Clemons passed away. The cause was complications from his stroke of last Sunday, June 12th."
A statement from Springsteen himself said, "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."
Springsteen and Clemons first hooked up in 1971, and he became an integral part of the backing band with his sax parts on songs like "Born To Run" and "Dancing In The Dark." Clemons became one of the most recognizable members of the E Street Band, and later tried his hand at acting, with a memorable cameo in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. He also appeared on TV shows like The Wire and The Simpsons.
Most recently, Clemons played on two songs on Lady Gaga's new album, Born This Way, including the current single "The Edge Of Glory." His final public performance was with Gaga on the American Idol season finale, and he also appears alongside her in the new "Edge Of Glory" video, which just debuted this past Thursday.
Clemons had battled multiple health problems in recent years, primarily with his back and legs. He had undergone spinal surgery and a double knee replacement. He suffered a stroke on Sunday, June 12 and had been hospitalized in Florida all week. He is survived by his wife Victoria and four sons.
After the news of his death broke, many artists around the world began to pay homage to Clemons and his influence on music. U2 tipped their hats to The Big Man on Saturday night at the end of their gig at Anaheim's Angel Stadium during their encore performance of "Moment of Surrender." Bono asked the audience to remember Clemons by holding up their glowing cell phones. "This is a special moment we want to share with you right now," Bono told the crowd, according to MTV News. "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."
Many artists also posted things on Twitter, including Public Enemy leader Chuck D, who wrote simply, "R.I.P. Big Clarence." Former Guns 'N Roses guitarist Slash called Clemons "one of the finest musicians/people in this business," and guitarist Tom Morello tweeted, "The Great Clarence Clemons. Thank you so much Big Man for sweetening the sound of our planet with your sax and your soul."