Clarence Clemons, the saxophonist in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band died on Saturday aged 69 after suffering a stroke.
Members of the band, who were told Clemons’ health was dire, rushed to Florida to be with the musician, who recently worked with Lady Gaga.
Clemons, described by Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen as “my great friend, my partner” had health complications following the stroke a week ago and he has suffered from nagging back and knee pain in the past.
His death has invited an outpouring of grief from the music world’s best-known names, including Janet Jackson, who described him on Twitter as a “wonderful talent”.
On Saturday night and through the day Sunday, hundreds of fans gathered at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, the legendary New Jersey rock club where the E Street Band members first laid down the band's rich musical roots.
Gary Mottola, who owns the Stone Pony, said Sunday that the E Street Band was "the soul of Asbury Park" and that Clemons was the soul of the band.
Months ago, Clemons told Rolling Stone that a recent tour he did with The Band was “hell” because of health issues.
Refusing to succumb to his ailments after undergoing a spinal fusion and two knee replacement surgeries, Clemons once declared to Rolling Stone “as long as my mouth, hands and brain still work I’ll be out there doing it.”
He added: “I’m going to keep going ’til I’m not there anymore. That is what’s keeping me alive and feeling young and inspired.”
As well as playing with the E Street Band, Clemons recently worked with pop sensation Lady Gaga on her hit album Born this Way, and even performed with her during the season finale of FOX’s American Idol in May.
After Clemons suffered a stroke, Lady Gaga took to Twitter to send love and well-wishes to the saxophonist.
"Little monsters, my very close friend +musician on The Edge of Glory Clarence Clemons is very sick," she wrote. "Can we all make some get-well videos?"
Edge of Glory producer Fernando Garibay recently spoke about Gaga's desire to get the Clemons on the song, which she wrote as an ode to her grandfather.
"As soon as she was done with it, we said, 'Let's go with it.' I think it's very epic. It's an emotional song," Garibay said. As for Clemons' appearance on the song, he added, "She wanted a sax part, so he came in and played on Edge of Glory and what a moment that was to have her family there when the sax was being played on the track and it was all really magical.
"Clarence Clemons came to the city; we were in New York," he continued. "He heard the song twice. We set up a mic and everything [and he] just played live all the way through. It was kind of one take. It was really amazing."
Shortly after Clemons’ death, Springsteen released a statement looking back at Clemons’ life and contributions to the band: “His loss is immeasurable and we are honoured and thankful to have known him and had the opportunity to stand beside him for nearly 40 years. He was my greatfriend, 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.”
Clemons last performed with the E Street Band in December of last year.
As well as Janet Jackson, Michael Moore, Seth Meyers, and others have also tweeted their condolences. “Clarence Clemons was a wonderful talent. He will be on my mind tonight,” Jackson said.
Actor Rob Lowe tweeted, “Clarence Clemons was an electric, generous, sweet spirit. Taught me how to look cool with a sax. Goodbye Big Man #Legendary.”
Tom Morello, the former Rage Against the Machine guitarist wrote, “Thank you so much Big Man for sweetening the sound of our planet with your sax and your soul.”
From their Anaheim, California show on Saturday, U2's Bono addressed their audience: "I want you to think about a beautiful symphonic sound that came out of one man's saxophone," he said.