Clarence Clemons, 1942-2011

Bruce Springsteen’s statement on losing his musical partner of almost 40 years:

It is with overwhelming sadness that we inform our friends and fans that at 7:00 tonight, Saturday, June 18, our beloved friend and bandmate, Clarence Clemons passed away. The cause was complications from his stroke of last Sunday, June 12th.  Clarence lived a wonderful life. He carried within him a love of people that made them love him. He created a wondrous and extended family. He loved the saxophone, loved our fans 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 forty 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.

Rest in Peace, Big Man.


Darling, I have no idea who this person is but I do know Paul Gonsalves.

More to the point, one saw The King’s Speech last night. OMFG. Right. Cast Bertie with an actor 20 years too old and then cast that loathsome Nazi Edward with a Brad Pitt wannabe and you get… Horlicks! What a piece of shite. What is anyone thinking.

Mam rhymes with spam: fuck you you fucking cunt. All you dear sweet yanquis have no idea how profoundly offensive that remark is to any self-respecting citizen of the world. Yes, Missy Shortbriches was charming as Elizabeth of Glamis but it doesn’t excuse the ridiculous fawning over the scum-sucking fuck bag killer monster morons of the English aristocracy. They are all shite. But as to flim, WTF with that set? (what the fuck was that about? Or that script?

This new Limey heritage muck is muck. Jane Austen can suck my dick. All these charming pipples of Brideshead killed and killed generations of working people like my family. It took WW2 to get rid of them.

Fuck you Colin Firth. You’re not gay and you’re not royal. You’re a cunt.

If you want to see the queenorama story better told and better acted check out Young Victoria. Fine performance by Emily Blunt, stunning designs and much better story. Same story,

@Benedick HRH KFC:
Replace “King’s Speech” with Avatar, “inbred english upperclass” with “big white bwanna” and “underclass” with “Smurfs” and you have summed up my feelings about Avatar.

@Benedick HRH KFC:

Mr. Gonsalves did play one hell of a sax solo in Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue from Ellington at Newport – 27 choruses according to the liner notes.

I’ll miss Clarence. Like Gonsalves, he made an art out of complementing and helping build a piece – not a common talent among sax players.

@Benedick HRH KFC: When are you going to have a recurring artS column, you know, where you pick apart movies and shows people maybe saw six months ago? (I only see about two movies in a theater a year, so yeah. Last thing I saw near Broadway was The Blue Man Group, so, yeah.) You need to go see SPIDERmAN, The DeathTrap and let us know how you like it.

Hokay. I need a somnolent movie to watch, or I’ll be up all night.

I can’t believe LinkedIn’s IPO was so strong.

I saw Clemons only once, a couple of years ago when I took Mrs RML to Denver to see this Springsteen guy she likes at the Pepsi Center there. I’m no fan, but goddamm – that guy is an entertainer with a capital “E.” I went away with a new found appreciation of what Springsteen does and how well he does it. Dude fucking delivered. Clemons I think was either ill or had just come back from a break, but it was good to see him. More impressive was 3rd guitarist Nils Lofgren. Fuck, that guy can play.

@Benedick HRH KFC: Being the good husband that I am, I escorted Mrs RML to the movie of her choice one winter evening, The King’s Speech. I went in fully expecting to hate it. I really liked it a lot and it was actually at the top of my list of favorite movies last year. I don’t know shit about the actual people portrayed except that my friend’s dad lives in a house that Nazi dude and his wife had in Paris. It’s on an island in the river, or something.

Anyway, I just enjoyed it as a movie and now apparently Benny has had his “Dances With Wolves” moment – everything is fucking wrong about the people, the culture, the historic facts of the movie but everyone takes it as the real fucking deal. I can see him now buying printer paper and a Reese’s peanut butter cup in town – “Oh, I can tell by your accent that you’re British. Wasn’t The Kings Speech such an absolutely brilliant movie? You must be so proud.”

/seethes, holds tongue

As I tell Mrs RML, they’re not making documentaries, they’re trying to make money. Welcome to the club. Next up: Dodgerblue on singing and dancing Jews in 19th century Russia.

@redmanlaw: As I tell Mrs RML, they’re not making documentaries, they’re trying to make money. Welcome to the club. Next up: Dodgerblue on singing and dancing Jews in 19th century Russia.

Kind of like how my people felt after, um, “The Big Chill”. No, we don’t all listen to Procol Harum during family get togethers dammit!

I saw Bruce and his Big Show in 1978. Four hours of house rocking at the Philly Rectum. I had to give up on the whole Boss shtick for a decade or so owing to the fact that I bunked with a Jersey boy in college who did for Bruce bootlegs what Deadheads did for Jerry. Come to think of it, I gave up on the Dead at that point, as well.

Nebraska pulled me back in.

@Walking Still: So I’m watching the Ken Burns jazz documentary, they cover Ellington’s Newport concert, and I’m compelled to pull out the vinyl for the first time in years.

At which point I learn that my turntable’s busted.

No matter. I pretty much have the whole damn thing in my head.

@Nabisco: That’s the reason I’m not a Bruce fan – fucking Bruce fans. They act like he’s the fucking god of their tribe. I’m more Creeping Death than Jungleland, anyway.

@nojo: I got Mrs RML a Sony turn table that makes instant MP3s via its USB port.

@Nabisco: I almost had to give up on Python and Firesign when a college friend recited entire sides on the slightest provocation.

@redmanlaw: I’ve heard of those, and I’m on the verge of having an excuse to get one — especially with Apple offering to “match” found music on your hard drive with higher-quality versions. Wouldn’t help with some of my obscure vinyl, but that Ellington concert was on Columbia, and other major jazz of that era came out on Atlantic, Blue Note, and Impulse. Heck, if I’m lucky, maybe Apple has Riverside digitized…

@nojo: How was the Ken Burns docu? I had that queued up this weekend then went with Baseball instead.

Please tell me he found a way to include Shelby Foote but not Bob Costas (or Billy Crystal) in Jazz.

@Nabisco: Very well-articulated, and epic in scale, from ragtime to fusion and beyond. No Shelby, but a lot of Gary Giddins, some Hentoff, and Wynton Marsalis as the primary guide.

I’m not really a Wynton fan, but he can be very eloquent, and he clearly knows his shit. So, respect. Although I’d rather have a pint with Branford.

And by articulated, I mean that it shows the steps of the music’s evolution very clearly. You may know that Armstrong’s Hot Fives and Hot Sevens were seminal, for example, or how Coleman Hawkins blew everyone away with Body & Soul. The doc puts those performances in context, so you hear what they did relative to what came before.

Not bad for a white boy. I didn’t know Ken had it in him.

@Nabisco: The doc also inadvertently serves to illustrate something I’ve never been able to express properly: that jazz as an art form had completed itself by 1970.

Not died. Not finished. Not destined for a museum or conservatory. But completed.

The history of jazz is the evolution of form. Improvisation is formal expression. The boppers dramatically distilled that form from what came before, folks like Coltrane and Dolphy turned it inside-out, and Ornette removed it entirely, improvising structure itself.

After that, I’ve always thought, there’s nowhere to go but back.

But that’s not quite right. Even when jazz is Dead Composers, it’s not Dead Performances. It’s still an improvisational art. When somebody plays Monk, they’re not playing him note-for-note. Even if they’re playing in the style of Monk, their solos are their own, and those solos remain fresh and contemporary.

The completion of jazz was like America reaching the Pacific: The historical frontier may have been closed, but there’s still plenty left to do.

The doc doesn’t make this point — it takes the more conventional Jazz Isn’t Dead Yet approach. But it can’t help but show that the Heroic Era is past. Which isn’t a bad thing. After all, the Heroes won.

@nojo: I could discuss for hours what Burns left out. He could have spent a week ot two on the evolution of bebop from swing and how that pretty much killed the genre as a popular art form. Or on the evolution of Dixieland, from which all jazz springs thanks to the genius of Louis Armstrong, from African drum styles in the sense of multiple lines (rhythmic or melodic) moving with or against each other. Stuff like this is why people avoid me at parties.

@Dodgerblue: I just watched episode 1, and indeed he did move fairly quickly from the roots to the zoots.

I had an undergrad class called “Jazz, Rock and the Avant Garde” with William Duckworth that was more encompassing. Pops thought it was an Easy A class; I considered it History.

@Nabisco: Sounds like a great class. Some Grateful Dead jams got into jazz territory, and indeed Garcia sat in with Ornette Coleman on occasion.

Happy birthday, btw. Spin some Miles Davis disks and kick back.

@Dodgerblue: And Ornette sat in with the Grateful Dead (as did, on occasion, Clarence Clemons, David Murray and Branford Marsalis).

The Grateful Dead have been very good about acknowledging their deep debt to Coltrane and Miles Davis for introducing them to modal improvisation.

@Walking Still: Also the Doors, who talked about wanting to emulate the “blowing” part of Coltrane’s “My Favorite Things,” the two-chord vamp, in “Light My Fire.”

@Walking Still: We listened last night to the 6/20/89 Dead show at Shoreline where Clarence played with the band. I told Mr. SFL that it was too bad Clarence didn’t play with them all the time, he made the Dead sound much better than usual. He didn’t think that was funny.

@SanFranLefty: Branford Marsalis played with them the last time I saw them, shortly before Garcia’s death. They were terrible.

@Dodgerblue: Well, of course he’s going to leave something out. Even at 20 hours, you can’t be exhaustive — especially if you’re not just doing the music, but the sociology.

But he chose the right moments to highlight — in particular the change from ensemble to soloist, and most definitely the rise of bebop and how it lost swing’s popular audience. You could easily have done twenty hours from Hawkins to Trane, but that wasn’t the plan.

I personally would have liked to see more about the labels — it’s been said that the difference between Blue Note and the rest was a day of rehearsal — but I can’t fault the overall framing of the journeys of Armstrong and Ellington.

It was, as they say in college, a survey course. I thought it was well-considered.

Here’s where I’m coming from as regards genre documentaries:

In Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, Sam Dunn plays himself, a 30-year old anthropologist. He’s also a lifelong metal fan. After years of studying diverse cultures, Sam turns his academic eye a little closer to home and embarks on an epic journey into the heart of heavy metal. His mission: to try and figure out why metal music is consistently stereotyped, dismissed and condemned, even while the tribe that loves it stubbornly holds its ground- spreading the word, keeping the faith and adopting the styles and attitudes that go way beyond the music.


@nojo: It’s a very good series. Though the music makes me break out in hives I found it interesting and beautifully produced. Especially informative about Louis Armstrong. I do feel, though, that he’s essentially making coffee-table books but am prepared to be told I’m wrong.

@redmanlaw: The movie made me wild with impatience. I don’t expect the real history – Churchill was very much on P of Wales’s side, for instance – but the fawning attitude over the ‘royals’ really makes me want to punch kittens and be rude about Jane Austen: which is not an impulse that should be indulged, or at least not in public. Casting Colin Furth, a fine actor, as Bertie when he’s clearly 20 years too old made everything just weird – and not in the good way. And that set! I wanted to ask if anyone had actually met an Englishman. It’s such an interesting idea but so much undergrad psychology going on it became laughable. Remember, the English use speech and accent to signal their place in the world. But all the movie seemed to want to do was make us fall in love with the royals all over again. You did get that the older of his two daughters is the present object of veneration?

You might Netflix Young Victoria for your wife. As I said, it’s practically the same film but better done. And with truly wondrous cozzies by Sandy Powell.

I felt very much the same about A Single Man which, while talented, was so extraordinarily fancy it made nonsense of the story.

@Benedick HRH KFC: Coffeetable jazz book is a fair description. But a well-produced coffeetable jazz book.

The coverage of Louis Armstrong is interesting. I’m old enough to remember when the line on Armstrong was that after the breakthrough Hot Fives and Hot Sevens, he sold out to a comfortable, if creatively unchallenging, life. Especially the knock on later Louis embarrassingly doing minstrel shtick.

The doc gives Armstrong a fair hearing, as well as his later critics. And while Armstrong is presented unabashedly as a Jazz Hero, there’s enough background to demonstrate that the view wasn’t universal.

Same with bop, for that matter. They’re also heroes in the Whig History of Jazz, but they weren’t without their critics, and the doc covers that.

Curiously, there’s only a fleeting mention of Young Sinatra, and we never hear from Frank again. I can see why that choice was made, given the ground the producers wanted to cover, but there’s a joyous Sinatra/Basie album from the early 60s, so it’s not like Frank disappeared into the studio with Nelson Riddle, never to be seen in the jazz timeline again.

@Benedick HRH KFC: @nojo: I actually have the coffee table book from the Jazz series, though I’ve never seen the TV version.

@Benedick HRH KFC: Is that post written in American? It looks like American but I can’t string the words together to make them make sense. Except for the part about Jane Austin sucking your dick. I got that part.

@nojo: Louis Armstrong invented jazz soloing and orchestration as we now know it, and invented jazz singing. Nothing he did afterwards can tarnish that.

@Tommmcatt Be Fat, And That Be That: Look on it as a cri de coeur. A stream of consciousness. It gets pretty crowded in here.

@nojo: Sumptuous is the word that comes to mind. The kind of thing put out by Rizzoli’s. I had no idea about Armstrong’s importance.

@Mistress Cynica: It’s very good and the music’s terrific.

@Nabisco: Hey, happy birthday!

@Benedick HRH KFC: A Single Man had a story? I thought it was just pretty people being pretty in pretty mid-century modern rooms. I should pay attention more.

@TJ/ Jamie Sommers /TJ: Thanks. I won’t ever catch Nojo, but the jury is still out on whether either of us found the Fountain of Youth through shared histories with MAD magazine, Mary Poppins, Pintos and college radio.

@nojo: I’m going back for more tonight.

@Nabisco: Still no gray, which I think is a sign how well I’ve avoided responsibility over the years.

That, and sleeping in.

Add a Comment
Please log in to post a comment