This coming January the late Clarence Clemons will have celebrated his 82nd birthday. Clarence roamed the stage with Bruce Springsteen for over 4 decades. He was a major force in the sound and success of the E-Street Band.

Although born and raised in Norfolk, Virginia, Clarence called Jersey his home. He spent most of his years living in New Jersey. Sadly, Clarence passed away on June 18, 2011.

Bill Clinton, Clarence Clemons

In describing Clarence, Bruce Springsteen said it best when he and the E Street Band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 describing meeting the Big Man for the first time. Here’s the quote from Bruce:

“That night we first stood together, I looked over at C and it looked like his head reached into the clouds. I felt like a mere mortal scurrying upon the Earth, you know. But he always lifted me. Way, way, way up. Together we told a story of the possibilities of friendship, a story older than the ones that I was writing and a story I could never have told without him at my side."

I interviewed Clarence when the band was on the final leg of their Born to Run tour in 1976, they were appearing at the Northrop Auditorium in Minneapolis, and I was working at the campus radio station. I had so much fun talking with Clarence that I forgot that we were recording. The stories were many and were filled with the antics and tribulations including multiple situations of racism that he experienced on the road in Europe. I became a big fan that night.

Clarence Clemons

Clarence and I had many other friendly and epic encounters including a night of drinking Metaxas in a hotel bar in Minneapolis until 3:30 a.m. during the Born in the USA tour. I’ve detailed that story many times here on my pages. I enjoyed all the times we had and most importantly our laughs, I loved to make him laugh.

There is a birthday bash celebrating his life and music at The Wonderbar in Asbury Park, NJ on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024. It’s hosted and headlined by Jarod Clemons son of Clarence and his band The Late Nights. Also appearing will be JT Bowen and other special guest performers. This will be an uplifting, fun, and musically talented way to spend a night celebrating Clarence’s birthday.

Happy Birthday Big Man, thank you for your talent, friendship, and that big grin, I miss that the most.

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The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.

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