Standing stage-left to Bruce Springsteen for the past three decades, E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons has had the opportunity to take in life from a unique vantage as a member of perhaps the greatest American rock band.
In his wildly entertaining memoir, written with the help of his best friend Don Reo (creator of “My Wife and Kids” and a number of other sitcoms), Clemons manages to share several never-before-heard stories of the band’s early days up through the making of the band’s last few records. Clemons manages to splice real stories with a handful of entertaining myths (many rooted in actual events and clearly marked in the book) creating a refreshingly original hybrid of fact and fiction – kind of like a James Frey book.
The chapters tradeoff between Clemons’ recollections and those by Reo – a longtime friend of Clemons and the band. Though some of these stories – like the first time Clemons and Springsteen met on a dark, stormy night at the Student Prince – have already been tracked down and retold countless of times by diehard Springsteen fans, there are some new revelations in “Big Man.” Among those, Clemons recounts the call he received while touring with Ringo Starr when Springsteen initially severed ties with the E Street Band. Clemons also recounts a conversation in a bar with Robert De Niro when he confesses the connection between Springsteen and a famous line from “Taxi Driver.”
All this and more makes “Big Man: Real Life & Tall Tales” one of the best musician’s memoirs recently released.