Bruce Springsteen called the death of his E Street band mate and longtime friend, saxophonist Clarence Clemons, an "immeasurable" loss in a statement released to his fans on Springsteen's official website Saturday.
"Clarence lived a wonderful life. He carried within him a love of people that made them love him. He created a wondrous and extended family," Springsteen said of Clemons.
Clemons died at age 69 on Saturday from complications from a stroke that left him hospitalized about a week ago, according to spokeswoman Marilyn Laverty.
Known as the Big Man for his imposing 6-foot-5-inch, 270-plus pound frame, Clemons had been slowed by health woes in recent years.
He endured major spinal surgery in January 2010 and, at the 2009 Super Bowl, Clemons rose from a wheelchair to perform with Springsteen after double knee replacement surgery.
Clemons was an original member - and the oldest member - of the E Street Band. He spent much of his life with The Boss, but also performed with the Grateful Dead, the Jerry Garcia Band, and Ringo Starr's All Star Band. He recorded with a wide range of artists including Aretha Franklin, Roy Orbison and Jackson Browne. He also had his own band called the Temple of Soul.
Clemons' ever-present saxophone and his booming saxophone solos became a signature sound for the E Street Band on many key songs, including "Jungleland," and "Born To Run."
"He loved the saxophone, loved our fans and gave everything he had every night he stepped on stage," Springsteen said in his statement. "His loss is immeasurable and we are honored and thankful to have known him and had the opportunity to stand beside him for nearly forty years."
The musician added, "He was my great friend, my partner, and with Clarence at my side, my band and I were able to tell a story far deeper than those simply contained in our music. His life, his memory, and his love will live on in that story and in our band."