The Legacy of Two Music Icons

Legacy Music IconsThis year, the music world experienced the loss of two well accomplished musicians with the passing of Clarence Clemons and Amy Winehouse.

Clemons, also known as “The Big Man,” was best recognized as the tenor saxophonist in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. Clemons suffered a stroke on June 12 and died from complications caused by the stroke on June 18.

Besides playing with Springsteen, Clemons also released multiple solo albums and played live in concerts with other bands such as The Grateful Dead and Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band.

Outside of the music world, he even made a few cameos on TV shows like My Wife and Kids and films such as New York, New York.

When Chris Polhamus, a senior at the University and devoted fan of Bruce Springsteen heard about Clemons’ passing from his father, he actually was not surprised.

“Clemons’ death was saddening, even though I know he’s been ill for years. My dad and I are huge fans of Bruce and especially Clemons,” Polhamus said.

Before his death, Clemons was featured in Lady Gaga’s song “The Edge of Glory,” which was released digitally on May 9.  The music video, which featured Clemons playing his saxophone, premiered two days before his death on June 16.

Jamee Shea, a senior at the University, heard of Clemons’ passing through Facebook where one of her friends posted Springsteen videos to respect the sax player. “I was shocked when I heard of his death. He was in Lady Gaga’s song and he looked perfectly fine!” Shea said.

To honor his memory, the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, a favored music venue for the E Street Band, honored Clemons with a memorial outside the bar.

Meanwhile, various bands such as Bon Jovi, The Gaslight Anthem, and Southside Johnny held concerts that were dedicated to Clemons’ memory.

Amy Winehouse, an English singer/songwriter, was known for her deep vocal range and music that mixed musical genres in R&B, soul, and jazz. Winehouse was found dead at her London residence on July 23 at the age of 27. 

Throughout her musical career, she had won more than 20 awards from over 60 nominations including 2008 Grammys for Song of the Year, “Rehab,” and Record of the Year, Back to Black.

Shea, who is currently studying abroad at London, has been a fan of Winehouse’s music ever since she was in high school.

“My best friend texted me about it and I was really shocked. Even though I knew the way she was treating herself (drugs and alcohol), it didn’t seem like much of a surprise. I thought she was going to overcome her addictions and make more music,” Shea said.

Aside from winning multiple music awards, the Official Charts Company reported that her last album, Back to Black, became the United Kingdom’s bestselling album of the 21st century.

Winehouse also received a 2009 Guinness World Record for “Most Grammy Awards Won By A British Female Act.”

Despite her skyrocketing success from a young age, she fell under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Her alcoholism peaked during a concert in Belgrade, Serbia on June 18, and within days the concert was posted all over YouTube. Winehouse was shown slurring the lyrics to her songs, stumbling on stage before being off stage.  This ultimately resulted with her tour being cancelled.

Winehouse has now joined “The 27 Club,” a group made up of several other musicians who have died at 27. Musicians such as Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison are some examples included in this list.

Regarding Winehouse, Polhaus said, “Ever since I heard of her train wreck of a concert before she died, I knew that she had problems. When I saw the news of her death posted on Yahoo’s homepage, I wasn’t surprised at all.”

Although Brad Brown, a junior at the University, was not a fan of either artist’s music, he still appreciated their talent.

“I feel bad for both of them because I’m sure Amy had a lot of fans, and the huge fans of Springsteen easily knew Clarence. They were easily a big part of music and it’s sad to see good talent pass away like this,” Brown said.

Despite their deaths, Clemons and Winehouse will be remembered for their contribution to music and how their success inspired many the world over.

PHOTOS COURTESY of billboard.com and clashmusic.com