Clarence Clemons, the legendary saxophonist in the E Street Band who played alongside Bruce Springsteen for the past 40 years, died on Saturday of complications from a stroke, according to the New Jersey Star-Ledger. He suffered the stroke at his home in Florida on June 12. While reports said he was ” responsive and in stable condition” last week after undergoing two brain surgeries, his condition declined and he passed on Saturday afternoon. He was 69.
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.
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, seated at the top of a city building’s stoop, with Gaga seated beside him.
Gaga took to Twitter to drum up well-wishes for Clemons from her Little Monsters. She writes: “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?”
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.