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The Big Man Clarence Clemons Seriously Ill After Stroke


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Rolling Stone can confirm reports that Clarence Clemons has suffered a stroke. The news broke this evening at 411.com, which reported that Clemons is "seriously ill after a stroke at his home in Florida." We have no information on the severity of the stroke, but we have independently confirmed that the E Street Band saxophonist has suffered a stroke.

Clemons has gone through a series of medical ailments - mostly involving his back and knees - over the past decade. He hasn't missed any concerts, but the conditions caused him to suffer a tremendous amount of pain and discomfort.

"That last tour was hell," Clemons told Rolling Stone in February. "Pure hell."

In the past year Clemons had both knees replaced and spinal fusion surgery. "The timing was perfect because it didn't interfere with a lot of stuff that was going on in my life," he says. "It made me stronger, and for the past year I've been in physical therapy a few days a week working my ass off to get back in shape. I'm walking better now, though I still use a cane and crutches. But now I'm having hip problems again. I don't know why."

Clemons last performed with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in December of 2010 at Asbury Park's Carousel House for a special web broadcast taping. He performs on two songs on Lady Gaga's new album Born This Way, and just last month performed "Edge of Glory" with her at the season finale of American Idol. He was supposed to play the national anthem before Game 2 of the NBA Finals last week, but a hand injury forced him to cancel at the last minute. He watched the game in the stands with Tim Hardaway and Alonzo Mourning.

When Rolling Stone spoke to Clemons in February he said that virtually nothing would take him off the road with Springsteen and The E Street Band. "As long as my mouth, hands and brain still work I'll be out there doing it," he said. "I'm going to keep going 'til I'm not there anymore. This is what's keeping me alive and feeling young and inspired. My spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy told me that my purpose in life is to bring joy and light to the world, and I don't know any better way to do then what I'm doing now."


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Saw Bruce and the band in Baltimore in 2009, and Clarence looked to be in rough shape then. He just had trouble moving around. They had a platform riser to get him onto the stage. It was the second-to-last concert stop of that tour, so I'm sure the grind of the road had taken its toll. But his sax playing was still pitch perfect and as joyful as ever. Sad news, and it makes me feel old.

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When I think of him this is what I think of:

The first few seconds of Living in the Future (Saw this tour twice)

<iframe width="425" height="349" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/24B0W4zBxD8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

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