Clemons does a mean Bruce impersonation - and I do mean "mean."
met The Big Man in a small pub in Culver City. He was a friend of a guitarist
whom I was working with. After a rehearsal, this guitarist asks me, "Do you
want to come have a drink with me and Clarence Clemons?" Having no plans
to meet anyone more famous that night, I accepted.
first impression was that The Big Man
wasn't really all that big (but then
you have to remember that Bruce is just a dwarf dressed to look like an earthy
rock troubadour). It was an intimate gathering - only Clemons, his girl, the guitarist
and me - and we got rolling, laughing crazy on each other's war stories, of which
Clarence's were by far the bitterest, thereby also making them the best.
was that time in history when the E Street Band were separated from Bruce Springsteen.
Yes, it seems like a blasphemous utterance, but even KISS spent 13 years out of
makeup. Mistakes happen. And Clarence didn't like it - not one little bit. He
spent the night regaling us with crude complaints, rude remarks and lewd impersonations
- all pertaining to his former boss - THE Boss: doing the "storytelling"
voice ("Back in mah home town, mah momma yewsta saydamee
the deep knee-bends, head down and outstretched palm thrown heavenward; busting
hilarious, disparaging jokes like:
Q: "What's the difference between
a moose and the E Street Band?"
A: "A moose has the horns in front
and the asshole at the back."
For all you Bruce aficionados
- yes, he was mocking your god. His derision was indicative of the consensus
of the E Street Band at that ambiguous time in history - Springsteen was their
LEAST favorite ex-employer.
a related incident, in 2004, I met another E Streeter, but under less auspicious
circumstances (Steven van Zandt, Springsteen's guitarist and, more recently, consiglieri
Sylvio Dante on The Sopranos): I was in rehearsals with Nancy Sinatra,
as her Lighting Director, in preparation for a European jaunt. Little Steven makes
an impromptu visit to one of these rehearsals and, as Fate and the Gods Of Embarrassment
would have it, I happened to be wearing my Sopranos t-shirt. If I had known
him well, it would have been a good in-joke, but since that was our very first
meeting, and knowing how detestable fan-worship looks from stars' points
of view, even though I was in a position of certifiable authority as Ms. Sinatra's
LD, I couldn't help feeling like a tosspot as I shook his hand, saying apologetically,
"By the way, man - this t-shirt - pure coincidence!" He laughed it off
and wasn't really paying attention to me, but I think he was officially not paying
attention to me BECAUSE of that damnable t-shirt. Ooh - my dick feels so small
kick my ass inadvertently!]
makes my Clemons encounter such a noteworthy anecdote, is the fact that when Bruce
came a-calling in 1995 for The Reunion, there was The Big Man himself during their
televised Reunion gigs, sax in hand, fake smile plastered over his soul, doing
the White Man Bop ("Toby be GOOD, Massa!") - onstage once more in his
well-worn Reverse Moose Position, for which he obviously had no more complaints,
since his wallet and ego were being fed phat.
Price, Honor, Clarence? Oh, What Price, Honor?...