Sunday, June 19, 2011

Clarence Clemons and the greatest pose in rock history

The death of Clarence Clemons means that nothing can ever be quite the same any more in the world of the E Street Band. He wasn't the most original saxophonist but his playing was integral to their sound. He wasn't the most animated live performer but Springsteen gave him the starring role in the band's inner drama.

I still can't get over the fact that when it came time to shoot some pictures for Springsteen's third album "Born To Run", he just turned up at the studio of Eric Meola with Clarence. Not on his own, not with the whole band, just with Clarence. He knew what would make not just a great shot but a defining shot. Whenever you saw him live after that there would always be a moment or two when they would snap into that pose. It could be that photo session was the most important day's work he did with the band.

It's a common misconception about big rock stars that they leave all the image mongering to somebody else, that they're only interested in the music and that they're above manipulating the people around them. Not so.


  1. I'm truly gutted about this. Music has lost one of it's biggest characters.
    That album cover is one of my all time favourites.

  2. Indeed. Springsteen turning up to the shoot with Clarence is a bit like Dylan wearing that white hat for The Last Waltz (or turning up to that 1965 press conference with a giant lightbulb). Masterstroke.

  3. The last time I messaged you, David, was to share our brief thoughts about Bruce's great Seeger Sessions gig at Wembley Arena. And now this.

    It was a fantastic gig, but sans E Street 'thrills', which always carried things to a higher, more spiritual level, and none more so, I think, than when Clarence sang Jungleland through his sax.

  4. A truly great photograph. However was it a sign of the times that only Clarences butt appeared on the front cover and not the whole shot of the two of them ? Bruce's intentions and peerless anti racism being apparently overruled by the record company ?

  5. Listening to Jungleand, tears in the eyes.

    Great memory of this at Wembley on the River tour, Clarence echoing around the old Empire Pool, a transcendent moment.

    BTW Martin, Born to Run was a gatefold, meant to be opened up.

  6. I do know that BTR was a gatefold - but records are displayed with just the front cover showing !

  7. David, surely this is the greatest pose in rock history? By a country mile.

  8. More information on Clarence Clemons, Bruce Springsteen, and the E Street Band... Clarence Clemons Of E Street Band Dies!

  9. Very sad about Clarence, far too early. But when it comes to poses ...

    ... talk about cheekbones.