We were both born in Norfolk, Virginia. He showed up seven years before I did. Were we both listening to that great tenor-sax stuff on Duane Eddy’s records on WGH and WNOR? As my old MS advertising pal Jeff Russell used to say: “might could.”
Clarence Clemons validated Bruce Springsteen with a shrug of his shoulder: the beautiful Eric Meola photo that portrayed the two musicians on the BORN TO RUN cover connected the Coasters with the Boss, forever and ever. (When I was in advertising, on behalf of my Deep South agency I personally begged Mr. Meola for the right to reprint a blase atmospheric shot; had I realized he was the guy who’d shot BORN TO RUN, I might have paid him twice as much!)
Through a great cascading bit of good fortune, Linda and I got to go backstage at a New Jersey concert just after the E Street Band re-formed. I was thus able to thank Max Weinberg personally for his quote on my book MOON by Tony Fletcher. But nothing was more exciting than when my friend Sandy Choron, Springsteen’s art director at the time, brought me to the portal of the Temple of Soul. This huge grinning black guy extended his hand, and friends, it was as big as a catcher’s mitt. Sandy said, “Tom’s a big fan.” Grin goes even wider. All I could stutter out was, “I’m a *little* fan of the Big Man.” Grin bursts out as a laugh, and he slaps me on the back. An hour later, he was blowing his heart out on stage. Clarence Clemons fostered love, and he gave it out in return, even to somebody he didn’t even know. RIP, Big Man.