By Jay Lustig
Earlier this week, I wrote a post about the seventh annual Big Man’s Birthday Bash concerts taking place Jan. 11-12 at The Headliner in Neptune and Bar Anticipation in Lake Como, in honor of the 77th anniversary of the late Clarence Clemons’ birthday. As I was doing so, I started thinking about the fact that he performed not only with the Grateful Dead — the Headliner show will have a jam/Dead theme, in recognition of that — but with many other musicians, of all kinds, in the course of his career. I looked around YouTube to see how many videos of those associations exist, and was pleasantly surprised to find there were quite a few.
Some were of projects I was previously aware of (e.g., Jackson Browne, Aretha Franklin, Lady Gaga). Others, I had had no idea about (e.g., Liza Minnelli, Brenda Lee, Alvin Lee).
And so I’ve compiled them in this post: 20 times Clemons performed with musicians other than Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, or on his own.
If you’re aware of any notable ones that I missed, please let me know in the comments section, below.
Here are the videos, with a little information about each one. Enjoy!
“Brokedown Palace,” with The Grateful Dead. An example of Clemons’ work with the Dead, from June 21, 1989 at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, Calif. Clemons solos at the 4:20 mark.
“Susie Q,” with John Fogerty & Friends.The May 27, 1989 AIDS benefit concert at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland included two sets by the Grateful Dead, after sets by Joe Satriani, John Fogerty, Los Lobos, Tower of Power and Tracy Chapman. Grateful Dead members Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir backed Fogerty — along with drummer Steve Jordan and bassist Randy Jackson (yes, the “American Idol” guy) — and Clemons joined in for encores “Susie Q” and “Long Tall Sally.”
“You’re a Friend of Mine,” with Jackson Browne. Of course, any list like this would not be complete without this song, a Top 20 hit in 1985.
“Freeway of Love,” with Aretha Franklin. Also in 1985, Clemons was featured on this even bigger hit by the Queen of Soul.
“Edge of Glory,” with Lady Gaga. Twenty-six years later, Clemons returned to the Top 40 by adding sax to this hit.
“Quarter to Three,” with Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band. Outside of the E Street Band, Clemons’ highest-profile project as a touring musician was as a member of Ringo Starr’s first All Starr Band, in 1989. It was an amazing group, also featuring Joe Walsh, Dr. John, Billy Preston, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Nils Lofgren and Jim Keltner. Here is Clemons on Sept. 3, 1989 at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, leading the band through the Gary U.S. Bonds hit (frequently covered by Springsteen), “Quarter to Three.”
“But the World Goes ‘Round,” with Liza Minnelli. Clemons played a small part in the 1977 movie “New York, New York,” in which Liza Minnelli sang “But the World Goes ‘Round” and other songs. And in “Grammy Living Legends” — a 1989 television special that honored her along with Smokey Robinson, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Willie Nelson — she sang a fabulous version of it, with Clemons. That’s Herbie Hancock introducing the number, by the way.
“I Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll,” with Norman Seldin. A native of Virginia, Clemons relocated to New Jersey in the ’60s, and played with Stormin’ Norman Seldin and Seldin’s band, The Joyful Noyze, before meeting Springsteen. In 2008, Seldin released Then and Now, a double CD compiling tracks from throughout his career, including material with The Joyful Noyze, tracks recorded with E Street Band members in 1980, and more. The rollicking “I Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll” features Clemons along with E Streeters Garry Tallent, Max Weinberg and Danny Federici, Southside Johnny and others.
“Jump Start My Heart,” with the Red Bank Rockers. Clemons led his own Shore-based group, The Red Bank Rockers (featuring J.T. Bowen on vocals) in the ’80s. Here they are performing “Jump Start My Heart,” a track from their 1983 album Rescue, in 1984.
“A Woman’s Got the Power,” with the Red Bank Rockers. The video for another track from Rescue.
“Savin’ Up,” with the Red Bank Rockers. Another song from Rescue; this one was written and co-produced by Springsteen.
“From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come).” From “Late Night With David Letterman,” in 1985. Clemons plays the melody of the Springsteen song on sax, backed by Paul Shaffer and the World’s Most Dangerous Band (with Steve Gadd sitting in on drums).
“That’s All You Gotta Do,” with Brenda Lee. From the 1987 Cinemax special,”The Legendary Ladies of Rock ‘n’ Roll.” The song was written by Jerry Reed and was a Top 10 hit for her in 1960.
“Jenny, Jenny,” with Alvin Lee. Clemons appeared on Zoom, a 1992 album by Alvin Lee (of Ten Years After), and in this Lee video.
“Into the Blue Forest.” On Clemons’ all-instrumental 1995 solo album, Peacemaker, he stretched out, musically, more than he could in his usual sideman roles.
“Fire,” with Arte & the Igniters and Michael Keaton. I don’t know how or why or exactly when this happened, though Arte Tedesco says on his website that he and Clemons shared a manager in the late ’80s.
“Soul Serenade,” with Narada Michael Walden. A beautiful version of the R&B classic, performed at a holiday benefit concert in Mill Valley, Calif., six months before Clemons’ death.
“The National Anthem.” Performed at a Mets-Marlins game that was the opener of the 2011 baseball season at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., April 1.
“The Peter Gunn Theme.” Clemons’ contribution to the surprisingly star-studded soundtrack to the 1985 movie “Porky’s Revenge!” (Dave Edmunds produced the album, which featured tracks by him as well as Jeff Beck, George Harrison, Carl Perkins, Willie Nelson, Robert Plant and Phil Collins (performing as The Crawling King Snakes) and The Fabulous Thunderbirds.
“Evangeline,” with the Jerry Garcia Band. In addition to jamming with the Grateful Dead, Clemons also sat in with Jerry Garcia’s Jerry Garcia Band. Here they are performing Los Lobos’ “Evangeline” on Sept. 10, 1989 at Great Woods in Mansfield, Mass.