Clarence Clemons, 69, the legendary saxophone player who was the "Big Man" in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, died Saturday night after suffering complications from a stroke.
Springsteen, who began his nearly 40-year relationship with Clemons in Asbury Park, broke the news on his website, brucespringsteen.net, Saturday night, nearly a week after he suffered a stroke on Sunday, June 12.
Springsteen's connection with Clemons ran deep, performing with the saxophone player at arenas and stadiums around the world.
But if Clemons was performing solo in Sea Bright, Red Bank, Belmar or Seaside Heights, there was always a good chance that Springsteen would jump on stage and join his good friend.
The Stone Pony in Asbury Park was packed on Sunday with hundreds of fans paying tribute to legendary saxophonist Clarence Clemons.
Springsteen and Clemons, who was 6-foot-4 and weighing 250 pounds, met at the Asbury Park bar in 1971, a story both men have told onstage for the past 40 years.
Springsteen, in a statement on his website, said: "It is with overwhelming sadness that we inform our friends and fans that at 7 p.m. tonight, Saturday, June 18, our beloved friend and bandmate, Clarence Clemons, passed away."
Springsteen said Clemons "lived a wonderful life," loved the saxophone 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 40 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."
In recent years, even in ill health and assisted by using a walker, Clemons often played at the Angry Moon, a cigar shop in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., near where he lived.
"He played there often, and usually unannounced," said Carmen Scharibone of Point Pleaasant, who also frequented the Angry Moon while staying at his condo in Palm Beach Gardens. "He was terrific, a real crowd-pleaser.
"He loved entertaining people," Scharibone said. "He would play right along with the piano player, whoever was playing on that particular night.
"Those of us who went to the Angry Moon on a regular basis will miss him. He was a lot of fun."
Weekend editor Don Wilno contributed to this story.