Gary U.S. Bonds
Clarence and I were both from Norfolk, Virginia, but we didn't become close until my comeback album, Dedication [in 1980], which I recorded with Bruce and the boys. Clarence was my big soul brother. He was fun to hang around with, partly because nobody bothered you when you were with him!
But he was a gentle giant, a very easygoing man. He'd do anything for you that he possibly could. He certainly helped me a lot, especially those albums of mine he played on. It was fantastic amount of time and effort he put into it to make sure it was right for me. I appreciate him for that.
I never found anybody that can play like Clarence or even sounds close to it. Once you hear his sax, you know exactly who it is. He put a lot of air into it, and out came this big, booming sound. It wasn't a lot of notes played. He could take one note and it would reverberate throughout the whole record, just hanging on one note. Totally amazing.
I talked to him two or three weeks ago. He said he was living down in Florida, enjoying the sunshine. I said "Well, don't enjoy it too much – you already got your sun tan. You got that years ago," and he laughed. He was having a great time down there, just enjoying life, relaxing. He met a lot of friends down there. He had something going with the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida, which was giving him an opportunity to get out and play and get some music.
Even though [the E Street Band] are great musicians, he had that sound that made everything possible. You're going to be listening for it every time you see them now. It's going to be hard to overcome that, I'm sure.
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