PALM BEACH, Fla. — Music filled the church during a private funeral Tuesday for Clarence Clemons, longtime saxophonist in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, who died of stroke complications over the weekend.
The service for the 69-year-old Clemons, known as the Big Man and Springsteen’s main foil onstage for four decades, was at the Royal Poinciana Chapel, where faint strains of music could be heard outside the small gray church.
Springsteen was scheduled to deliver the eulogy, according to the Palm Beach Daily News. Jackson Browne and members of the E Street Band were on hand. Miami Heat general manager Pat Riley was seen leaving the church.
The 6-foot-5 Clemons had suffered from numerous medical problems over the years. He needed spinal surgery to relieve back pain and had two knee replacements. In recent years, he often needed to rest on stools onstage. He died Saturday at his home in Singer Island, Fla.
Besides the E Street Band, Clemons performed with many other artists, including Browne, over the years. Very recently, he was introduced to a whole new generation of fans when he performed his signature tenor sax on Lady Gaga’s video, “The Edge of Glory.”
In a statement posted on his Internet site, Springsteen said, “Clarence lived a wonderful life. He carried within him a love of people that made them want to love him. He created a wondrous and extended family. He loved the saxophone, loved our fans and gave everything he had every time he stepped on stage.”
Gail Reich Ampolsky, came from Marlboro, N.J., for the funeral. She said she was a lifelong friend of Clemons and was invited to the service that she said was beautiful. Springsteen and his bandmates, including Clemons, met and got their start in New Jersey.
“He touched everybody’s life in so many ways,” she said after the service. “He was just a big teddy bear. He was just wonderful. He was a huge part of the band and he was a huge part of life.”
She said members of E Street spoke at the service, but did not perform any music.