Clarence Clemons, legendary saxophonist in the E Street Band who played alongside Bruce Springsteen for the past 40 years, died on Saturday (June 18) of complications from a stroke, according to the New Jersey Star-Ledger. He was 69.
"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," said a statement from band manager Jon Landau. "The cause was complications from his stroke of last Sunday, June 12."
Clemons is survived by his his fifth wife, Victoria, and four sons.
"Clarence lived a wonderful life," said Bruce Springsteen in a statement. "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."
On June 14, Springsteen posted a message of support for his longtime friend, writing: "By now, many of you have heard that our beloved comrade and sax player Clarence Clemons has suffered a serious stroke. While all initial signs are encouraging, Clarence will need much care and support to achieve his potential once again... This is a time for us all to share in a hopeful spirit that can ultimately inspire Clarence to greater heights."
Clarence Clemons solos during "Jungleland" at a June 2009 Bruce Springsteen + E Street Band gig in Sweden.
Known as the "Big Man," Clemons had been with the E Street Band for nearly four decades and helped define the band's sound on such classics as "Born to Run" and "Thunder Road." The 69-year-old underwent two knee replacements and back surgery in the last year; in an interview with Rolling Stone in February, he described his last tour with the band as "pure hell" due to pain.
Clemons and Jackson Browne rocked out together in this 1985 collab "You're A Friend Of Mine."
Most recently, Clemons collaborated with Lady Gaga on her "Born This Way" album, playing sax on the singles "The Edge of Glory" and "Hair" and performing with the pop star on the May 25 "American Idol" season finale. He appears in the "Edge of Glory" video, which premiered just two days ago. In the clip, Clemons sits alongside Gaga on a building stoop and, of course, wails on his sax.
Earlier this week (June 13), Gaga took to Twitter to drum up well-wishes for Clemons from her Little Monsters, which she released in the form of a YouTube clip on June 15. She wrote: "Little monsters, my very close friend + musician on The Edge of Glory, Clarence Clemons is very sick. Can we all make some get well videos?"
Clemons was a musical guest on 'Letterman,' duelling his sax with Paul Shaffer's piano.
While Clemons hasn't played with the E Street Band since December, he was scheduled to perform the National Anthem at the NBA Finals Game Two last week. However, the appearance was nixed at the last minute due to a hand injury; Clemons watched in the stands instead.