Update, 6/19/11: We are unbelievably saddened to say that the Big Man has passed away.
Clarence Clemons, longtime saxophonist in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, has suffered a stroke. We don't yet know the extent of it, but this is grave news regardless: The Big Man has been suffering from deteriorating health recently. Our most ardent well wishes go to him right now.
And to celebrate Clemons' contributions as arguably the most significant saxophone player in rock and roll history, we present his five best solos.
5. "The Ties That Bind"
Not as balls-to-the-wall as some of these others, but a whale of a thing nonetheless. Spolier alert: Every song on this list comes off of the Boss' upper-echelon, first-ballot-hall-of-fame albums. Coincidence?
Clemons goes toe-to-toe with a Boss guitar solo on this one and at worst comes out even. The way it falls off into the build is just... the sort of thing you can only sound embarrassing describing.
3. "I'm Going Down"
The second-best screamer(s) on this list (you already know...). Seriously: It would take one thousand Kenny G's to win a fight against a single Clarence Clemons. And maybe not even then.
This is a song defined by the kind of glorious, gaudy excess only one rock star has ever been able to deliver without seeming even slightly self-indulgent. And that is still very much true even though Clemons gets a solo that is nearly two fucking minutes long.
1. "Born To Run"
Was there any doubt? That thing is the sound of freedom. You'll be incredibly missed, Clarence.