Harry here, I know Clarence Clemons was mainly a musician... but you see, when I was a kid, from Elementary School till my Sophmore year of High School, the thing that I most used to associate to my self identity was the TENOR SAXOPHONE that I played.
When I picked "my instrument" - having seen Clarence Clemons playing on stage with Bruce Springsteen at the Armadillo World Headquarters... well the image of Clarence Clemons was just damn powerful. I fused the image and cool of Clarence Clemons into the instrument he made wail.
In High School, at the end of my Sophmore year - when I was 1st chair Tenor Sax in band, when my Band Director asked me to take a Trombone home for the summer, because he needed a strong guy on Trombone, I argued for days. I had Trombone associated with a fat kid whose mom would comment that he was the only one in step. And I had Clarence Clemons as my self-image when I played Sax. My band director, Mr Driscoll & his assistant Mr. Means both got a hell of a kick out of that. Rick asked me to check out Jimmy Stewart in the GLENN MILLER STORY - and I said I had it at home on VHS (sigh). I'd never watched it, to be honest, I didn't know who Glenn Miller was - and I didn't know Jimmy Stewart was playing him. After watching, I decided I could be Jimmy Stewart... Then my Senior year came along and a bunch of my geeky friends piled into my Green 1978 Cadillac (it was my mother's) and we drove listening to KNIN out of Wichita Falls headed to see BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE. My best friend, Robert Vasquez (RIP) played 1st chair Trumpett, he died shortly after this trip. We laughed the whole way. Singing to the radio - and when we saw BILL & TED - I was so excited to see Clarence Clemons on screen as one of the three most important people in the world... And I totally agreed! He's fucking Clarence Clemons. The man oozed cool.
Hell, I don't know if I would have thought the word cool was as cool as cool is, if not for Clarence Clemons. He was just an impressive man. The way he held himself, the invisible cool rays that emanated from his head to make me think COOL when I saw or heard him.
Clarence Clemons was just about the coolest person to ever be cool. Shit, I loved his version of the Peter Gunn Theme on PORKY'S 3: REVENGE, which I saw on cable... a lot as a kid. Porky's 3 had some good skin in it. Right?
Looking at his IMDB page, I swear I think I even remember him from that DIFF'RENT STROKES he was on. I loved Gary Coleman as a kid!
I know this isn't much of a formal obituary. To be honest, I don't know a terrible lot about Clarence. I loved his music, image and contribution to BILL & TED. But damn, to a Tenor Sax who could play Trombone pretty damn good, but never wanting to. My father told me why the Tenor Sax was so cool. When I was thinking about self identity and who I would love to see myself as... Clarence Clemons was brought up by my Dad an awful lot. It is a sadder world without Clarence Clemons. The man was COOL. As the editor of AINT IT COOL, it simply had to be said.