In 2009 Clarence Clemons released his ‘memoirs’ of sorts, co-written with his close friend Don Reo, the title…BIG MAN!
I received this book as a gift almost immediately after it’s release. However, for one reason or another, this sat on my shelf until around about this time last year after the news of the passing of Clarence Clemons when I knew I had to pick it up. What followed was an absolute blast.
Firstly, I’d like to touch on the term ‘memoir’. This is addressed in the foreword of the book by both the authors and Springsteen, this book is a collection of stories by storytellers. The whole book is a selection of stories, in no particular order, which vary from tales Clarence was told as a child to hilarious stories about Bruce, The E Street Band and other famous friends and situations. Throughout the read you question what is real, what is enhanced for dramatic effect, and what is total BS, but that’s what makes this read so much fun!
‘Big Man’ also gives huge insight into the friendship of Bruce & Clarence and great insight into the man Bruce Springsteen and not just the rock star. I have read a fair number of Bruce Springsteen biographies and always felt a little short changed by never really learning anything new about him as a person. This book blew my mind with personal stories of these two friends who grew old together in the coolest way possible.
Now it’s impossible for me to write a review of this book without giving away some of it’s contents, so I’ve decided rather than write a huge review I will simply say if you are a fan of Clarence Clemons or indeed a fan of Bruce Springsteen, buy this book. It’s fantastic. Below are 3 of my favourite tales from the book that also involve Bruce. Go find them for yourself…
1) Clarence & Bruce meet for a drink in a biker bar in the back end of nowhere. They are sharing a drink and swapping stories when a ‘fan’ approaches and asks for a photo. Clarence says ‘sure’ so the guy passes Bruce the camera and poses with Clarence. Bruce takes the photo and when the guy leaves he says to Clarence ‘Say hi to Bruce for me’
2) The story of where Bruce got the red cap for the cover of Born in the USA…
3) On the last night of The Rising Tour the moment hits Clarence back in the car Bruce notices and asks ‘You okay?’ … after a short chat… “Hey Man…Thanks” said the Big Man. “For what?” asks Bruce. “For everything” replies Clarence.
OK, so far it’s been all Bruce & Clarence but this book is so much more. Stories of Clarence playing pool with Fidel Castro, meeting fans and meeting his wives are all fantastic but some of the best stuff in this book are also the chapters written by Don Reo. He tells the story of watching your best friend grow old. His understanding of who Clarence Clemons was is as important to this book as the insight
Clarence Clemons gives into who Bruce Springsteen is. Go buy it! You won’t be disappointed!