Roadrunner Records - Slipknot's hard-hitting, aggressive metal anthems are getting…
- Posted on Jan 12th 2010 3:00PM by Pat Pemberton
"He's one of the greatest story tellers I've ever met," Clemons tells Spinner. "I remember sometimes when we first got started, we were sitting on the edge of the bed in the bedroom we were sharing and he would tell stories. You'd be too scared to go to sleep. He loved telling stories that would freak you out."
While Clemons used to suggest Springsteen write a book one day, the "Big Man" was the first to publish. In his book 'Big Man: Real Life and Tall Tales,' written with close friend Don Reo, Clemons describes Springsteen's penchant for stories in the early days of the E Street Band. Unfortunately, he says the band' success ultimately left little time to share more tales.
"We have time to time to get off the plane and go to the gig now, then get back on the plane and go home," he says. "We don't have a chance to sit on the side of the bed and talk anymore. But all that stuff is stored in your head and in your heart and in your mind. It never leaves."
For Clemons, the stories that come to mind are often real ones about the band's shared experiences.
"Even onstage sometimes, I'll have a flashback of something we did together," Clemons says. "We'll be playing a song that we played a thousand times and every time you play it something different comes to your mind, another show or of something somebody did."
The famous Eric Meola 'Born to Run' album cover, which features Springsteen and Clemons chumming around, also conjures old recollections.
"It brings back all kinds of memories," he says while staring at outtakes from the photo shoot at his Florida home. "Just stories of the struggles we went through, trying to get there and the belief in what you're doing and people telling you this is not what you should be doing."
Clemons, whose tryout for the Cleveland Browns was thwarted by a serious auto accident, was working with mentally-handicapped children when he gave up that career to play full-time with E Street. While the band failed to gain commercial success with its first two albums, Springsteen pushed hard to make 'Born to Run' his breakthrough. His legendary perfectionism, as the book notes, included working with Clemons for 16 hours to get the right sax solo on 'Jungleland.'
"We all had faith in Bruce and what he was doing," Clemons says. "You wouldn't have been in the band if you didn't have faith. It was some tough times in the beginning, you know, but it was what we wanted to do."
The album's success assured Clemons, who attended Maryland State University on music and athletic scholarships, that he would never have to work a day job again. Still, he remembers those five years working at the Jamesburg Reform School.
"The joy you get from doing something to help people, it's the same kind of joy I get from when I play now, knowing that somebody out there in the audience is getting something from what you do," he says. "If I hadn't had that experience, I probably wouldn't be as calm as I am now. It makes you really appreciate it."