In 1985, Clemons score a hit through Jackson Browne called "You"re a friend of Mine," and the video is prefer an archetypal 80s buddy cop movie—if those friend cops had made decision to movie a music video.

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The Hero album cover mirrors Clarence Clemons together we’d probably like come imagine the late saxophonist in heaven—fists increased high and also triumphant above the clouds. He's also wearing head-to-toe red leather, and also it's less particular we'd snapshot that. One of two people way, Bruce Springsteen's nearby friend and also longtime musical partner in the E Street tape did in fact step out into the spotlight together a solo artist 30 years ago.

Hero came out in 1985, at the arguable job peaks because that both Springsteen and Clemons. The year before, Springsteen had actually released his album Born in the U.S.A., propelling him come stratospheric level of mainstream success. Clemons, a central figure the Springsteen’s band, capitalized on that exposure through Hero and also the hit single “You’re a girlfriend of Mine,” a teamwork with Jackson Browne. Clemons came to be a breakout figure in his very own right. Three years after the album’s release and also four years after his unfortunate death via symptom from a stroke, the 6’5” male who Springsteen affectionately presented onstage as “The greatest Man You’ve ever Seen” deserves to be remembered not only as Springsteen's most iconic band member but additionally as the guy behind some various other ebulliently happy 80s hits.

Clemons and also Springsteen very first met in September 1971. A tenor saxophonist indigenous Virginia, Clemons was play in a band on the Jersey Shore once a bandmate urged the to inspect out one more group play nearby. In 1998, he described the scene to Mojo:

One night we were play in Asbury Park. I'd heard The Bruce Springsteen band was nearby at a club referred to as The student Prince and on a break between sets ns walked over there. Onstage, Bruce used to tell various versions that this story, however I'm a Baptist, remember, so this is the truth. A rainy, public night that was, and when I opened up the door the entirety thing flew turn off its hinges and blew away under the street. The tape were on-stage, yet staring at me framed in the doorway. And also maybe that did make Bruce a tiny nervous since I simply said, "I desire to play through your band," and also he said, "Sure, you carry out anything girlfriend want."

The complying with July, Springsteen began recording what would be his debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. Clemons jammed v Springsteen often during the record session breaks and even recorded components on a couple of songs, solidifying your budding friendship. Clemons was eventually invited to sign up with Springsteen’s E Street Band together they all set to tour. Regularly standing simply to Springsteen’s side onstage, Clemons’s commanding physical presence earned the the iconic nickname the “The huge Man” that stuck with him because that the remainder of his life.

Clemons was featured an ext prominently on Springsteen’s third album, 1975’s Born to Run, which came to be a crucial and advertisement success. His explosive sax occupational fills the middle of the location track—it’s probably ideal to hear to the while watching a montage that his miscellaneous outfits. His rising presence as the band’s rock was likewise seen pretty plainly on the record’s album cover, which shows Springsteen literally leaning ~ above his friend. On the fold-out, Clemons stares into the camera when wearing some devastatingly sweet animal leather pants.

Fast-forward come the mid-80s, and also 1984’s Born in the U.S.A. had actually pushed the tape to new heights. The video for lead single “Dancing in the Dark” showcases Clemons’s grinning visage at least once before he shows up again because that the soothing sax outro (if friend can obtain past Springsteen’s production of the many vicious snap-and-strut dance move well-known to man and also the figure of a 20-year old Courteney Cox). Also though Springsteen—and, by association, Clemons—was at the top, Clemons realized there was on much more step: solo stardom.

Clemons released his 1985 popular music album Hero at a time once the publicly consciousness bordering The large Man and also the for free dousing of saxophone in well-known music were at one apex. Hero’s first single “You’re a friend of Mine” made certain there to be a lot much more of that. The an outcome of a partnership with Jackson Browne, who ended up being friends with Clemons after castle met during a present Browne did through Springsteen beforehand in their careers, “You’re a friend of Mine” is ideal enjoyed via that music video.

The song opens up with a searing saxophone intro, making certain Clemons’s instrument takes the lead wherein it would otherwise be playing second fiddle come Springsteen. Browne’s then-girlfriend, actress Daryl Hannah, lounges ~ above a couch; she take away turns painting a landscape and recording the duo v a VHS camcorder. She was connected in much more ways 보다 one: Those feather female backing vocals top top the chorus room in reality Hannah’s own. To add to the cooperation mayhem, songwriter Narada Michael Walden is play drums in the clip, looking like he’s never ever frowned a day in his life. The entirety thing is comparable to the archetypal 80s buddy cop movie—if those friend cops had made decision to movie a music video.

The song was a hit, reaching 18 top top the united state Billboard hot 100, and its video clip will make you wish you had danced hand-in-hand through Clarence Clemons, simply once. Browne explained their partnership to Rolling Stone in 2011 ~ Clemons passed away:

He carried the E Street tape the power of friendship, redemptive love and inclusion. The did because that one generation—well, several generations now—of American kids what Richard Pryor did. He damaged down gyeongju barriers and made it around inclusion. That performed that similar to Pryor did.

He to be such a generous guy and also he had this substantial smile. Ns remember walking backstage come his dressing room at among their shows and he called it the holy place of Love. Or maybe it was the holy place of Soul. Ns think it even said that on the door. There were incense and also fabric and also all these lights. It yes, really WAS favor a temple.

Doing "You're a friend of Mine" to be such a thrill because that me to be asked. It most likely wasn't a track that was suitable to have actually Bruce on. Possibly that would've been as well obvious. But I was happy to be on that record.

Clemons didn’t rest with just his very own album and also hit single with Browne, together he make a starring rotate in Aretha Franklin’s same-year smash, “Freeway the Love.” In the video, Clemons looks like an absolute boss in a white suit and matching white sunglasses. One deserve to gather that he looks prefer a star because was one in his very own right. For the song’s solo, Clemons drops into some sort of saxophone power squat that would make any kind of other, an ext mortal man’s foot explode into a cloud that dust.

Clemons’s solo work ordered the fist of old fans offered to seeing him in the context of his pal Springsteen and brand-new fans alike. It’s a nice feeling knowing that, 30 years on, hit single “You’re a friend of Mine” and also his various other music have urged fans to do things prefer crafting saxophone-themed playlists and create earnest tribute videos. Clemons managed to change a duty that might have been minimal to that of a brass session musician into something much, much larger. Even if it is you look in ~ him as a legendary saxophone player, a trailblazing black color musician or Bruce Springsteen’s (and Jackson Browne’s) near friend, The big Man at least reached the optimal on his own terms.

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