Jake Clemons Fills His Uncle Clarence’s Big Shoes

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Jake Clemons Springsteen 2012

The last name will certainly resonate with classic rock fans. Singer, songwriter Jake Clemons plays a number of different instruments, including the guitar. But the one he’s best known for, of course, is the saxophone.

Clemons has divided his time amongst touring the world with his own music (performing at venues and “Living Room” shows across the globe) and since 2012 performing with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band on tenor and baritone saxophone (stepping in for his uncle, the late Clarence Clemons.)

He’s obviously had large shoes to fill when playing with the E Street Band. Back in 2016, Best Classic Bands asked Jake if he found audiences to be receptive to him. “The audiences have been incredibly kind and warm and generous, and in that, I feel their contributions have been equally as significant as my own. We’ve really gotten to where we are today as a community.”


He added: “Here’s the thing: Clarence and I actually wore the same-sized shoes. In fact, he would often retire his older pairs to me (which was extremely appreciated; trying to find shoes can be a nightmare!). But what’s more significant than one’s shoes is one’s footprint. Clarence had big feet and a big role to play, but he left an unearthly sized footprint! That is simply something I could never fill. It remains on me, and it remains on all of those who loved The Big Man and what he stood for. I’m grateful to be in a role where I can honor that, and I’m also thankful for an audience that allows me to be myself!”

Watch Jake’s beautiful solo on “Jungleland” from July 2012 in Sweden

I asked him if there was a particular moment when he felt he truly fit in with these musicians who have played together for so many years. “The E Street band has always been family to me,” he said. “I was fortunate enough to have grown up that way and to have spent a lot of time on tour with Clarence. They are some of the hardest working, dedicated musicians you’ll ever come across. For that reason, I still consider myself to be just a kid lucky enough to work, live and play amongst legends!”

I wondered about the first Springsteen concert he attended as a child, where it was and if there was something in particular he could share about the memory. “The first Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concert I saw was March of 1988 in North Carolina. At that point I hadn’t really been exposed to ‘Rock & Roll,’ so musically I just remember it being extremely loud! But there was something beyond that… The connection! Everyone in the room- the audience, the band, the crew… Everyone seemed locked in to a unified moment. It was congregational. I was in a room with 40,000 other people and it felt like there was only one of us in the room. That feeling has remained my constant pursuit every time I’m on stage, be it with E Street, my own band, or even solo for that matter.”

Watch Clemons’ solo towards the end of a Springsteen classic in 2023

Jake Clemons was born on February 27, 1980. The Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band 2024 tour resumes March 19. Tickets are available here and on StubHub.

Greg Brodsky

3 Comments so far

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  1. lyn larkins
    #1 lyn larkins 19 June, 2016, 17:17

    what a wonderful young man Jake is. saw him at a small pub venue in Australia, he was brilliant.

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  2. JACK
    #2 JACK 4 August, 2017, 05:46

    Once again we see the wonder of genetics. It was on display on “Best Classic Bands” a couple of days ago with Keith Emerson’s grandson, and now with Jake Clemons, Clarence’s nephew. Sure they may have had access and connections, but unless the talent is there, those connections dry up real fast. Actually, unless there is that “natural” talent, you don’t even get a wife of the “big time”. Best of luck to both these young men, and to BCB, these are interesting stories, keep ‘me coming.

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