Like pretty much everyone with ears and a heart, I was very sad to hear of the recent passing of Clarence Clemons. As a pre-teen saxophone player in the 1980s, I was a huge fan of the man: his playing, his attitude, his earwormy solos. Of course I admired players like Charlie Parker, Johnny Hodges, and Paul Desmond, but Clemons was now. He was playing stadiums! He had millions of people across the world, including myself, singing along with his solos! “Take Five” notwithstanding, it was rare to hear the sounds of a saxophone coming out of a jukebox, never mind to be able to hum along with every note and know just who was playing it.
Of course Clemons left us too early, but at the same time, it’s undeniable that he had an incredibly full life. He made his living playing music, touring around the world and recording with not just Bruce Springsteen, but scores of others, including Ringo Starr, Aretha Franklin, Twisted Sister (!), and, most recently, the pop juggernaut known as Lady Gaga. On top of all that, as early as 1983 he had achieved one of the highest honors in our culture: he had been lovingly parodied by the Muppets on the cover of the Sesame Street Born to Add album and in its title song, performed by Bruce Stringbean and the S. Street Band.
“Not just another Springsteen parody. Lampoons many rock acts – while teaching valuable information. ROD: No need for little white dots on this ‘un!”
“After this goes out of rotation [I love that this was in rotation] can I give it to my little brother?”
“Cookie Monster rocks!”
“I don’t see the Sex Pistols’ ‘God Save the Silent E’ here.”
“Way cool stuff! ‘Co-operation'”
“Hey food! Yummy yum yum.”