Bruce Springsteen’s ebullient saxophonist and onstage foil recounts nearly four decades of the rock ’n’ roll life, assisted by best friend Reo, a TV writer and producer.
This account, the first by a member of the E Street Band, is “not a standard memoir,” the authors warn. Half the chapters can be taken literally, but the rest, labeled “Legends,” feature imagined conversations, altered times and places and more—just what a musician might offer up in the long hours on the road, fueled by Jack Daniels and other mind-altering substances, many of which Clemons cops to consuming over the years. Among the luminaries in these droll, quasi-fictional encounters are Thomas Pynchon, Frank Sinatra, Norman Mailer, Redd Foxx, Fidel Castro, Robert DeNiro, Bob Dylan and Groucho Marx. Clemons demonstrates that he might be every bit the raconteur that the Boss is in concert. For example, he describes how, in 1972 gig at Sing Sing Prison, the band escaped with their lives after their musical equipment blew out by jamming for an hour with just sax and drums. Fans will find especially fascinating the Big Man’s account of the marathon Born to Run (1975) recording, the early road groupies and at least some of his five wives, the ornate touring sanctuary known as the “Temple of Soul” and the E Street Band’s late organist, Danny Federici, who was given to such hijinks as running down hotel corridors naked. Any resentment lingering from Springsteen’s 1989 decision to break up the band—a decision happily rescinded several years later—has dissipated, leaving only gratitude to a friend responsible for the best years of the author’s life.
Clemons imparts a warm, Indian summer feeling that deftly accompanies his rollicking reminiscences, making this a must for the legion of fans that he and the Boss have accumulated over the decades.