Clarence Clemons, saxophonist with Bruce Springsteen‘s E Street Band, has died aged 69.
Springsteen led the tributes to his “great friend” in a statement on his website, BruceSpringsteen.net, where he spoke of his “overwhelming” loss.
“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,” the singer said.
Known as the ‘Big Man’, Clemons had been a key part in defining the sound of the E Street Band, contributing the iconic sax parts on hits like ‘Born To Run’ and ‘Thunder Road’.
More recently he played on Lady Gaga‘s ‘Born This Way’ album, performing on tracks ‘Hair’ and ‘The Edge Of Glory’. He had a starring role in the video for the latter track, which was unveiled earlier this week .
Clemons also performed as part of Gaga‘s band on the recent American Idol series finale.
He underwent two knee replacements and back surgery last year, and as a result described his last tour as “pure hell” due to the pain.
His last performance with the E Street Band was December. He was scheduled to perform the US National Anthem at the NBA Finals Game 2 last week, but had to pull out to due to a hand injury.
Virginia-born Clemons began playing saxophone at the age of nine after receiving one for Christmas.
“I wanted an electric train for Christmas, but he [his dad] got me a saxophone. I flipped out,” he told the Associated Press news agency during a 1989 interview.