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Clarence Clemons’ death still rings

Nils Lofgren Clarence Clemons Bruce Springsteen perform New Jersey 2002. | Getty Images

Nils Lofgren, Clarence Clemons and Bruce Springsteen perform in New Jersey in 2002. | Getty Images

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Updated: November 16, 2011 1:31AM

The death of the Big Man remains the biggest loss for Bruce Springsteen fans. From Main Street to E Street, the mourning continues for the late sax great Clarence Clemons.

Chicago native Nils Lofgren, who has stood beside Bruce Springsteen on stage for the last 25 years, said this week that the Boss and the E Street Band are still grieving the saxman’s death in June at age 69.

“Nobody is doing good. The devastation is sinking in and is getting deeper.

“It’s such a terrible, devastating loss,” Lofgren added. “In addition to standing next to him on stage, I had a close personal relationship with Clarence off stage. We spoke every week.

“He had three hip operations. Two knee operations. All kinds of surgeries,” Lofgren said. “I had my hips replaced from all the jumping around.”

As for Clemons’ stroke, he says, “It was a really awful thing that took us all by surprise. We’re dealing with it the best as we can.”

Lofgren, who has a busy solo career and a new CD out later this year, has been playing solo shows.

“Afterwards, I always go out and sign CDs for the fans. I almost didn’t want to go out this summer. I knew everyone would be talking about Clarence.”

“But I did go out and commiserate with everybody,” he says. “This is also devastating for the fans, who use the body of work from the band and Bruce as a landscape for their lives.”

Lofgren can’t answer the question on the mind of all Bruce fans: Now what?

“I think everyone is way too heartbroken,” he says when asked about the future. “It’s an impossible, inappropriate subject. I know fans wonder.

“Honestly, I’m too grief-stricken for it to even be a topic. It’s too soon for it to be a topic for us. I just can’t go there.”

Ask him how Bruce is doing now and he says, “I don’t want to speak for anyone. This has to be ten times as devastating for Bruce.”

Lofgren spent the first day of summer this year and his 60th birthday in Florida for all the wrong reasons. “I flew to Florida to bury my good friend Clarence,” he says.

“It was a momentous occasion. I had to hand it to my wife. She insisted on a birthday celebration, and the band came.”

Now, it’s a time to reminisce. “I’d go to Clarence’s room with my guitar and try to second-guess what songs Bruce would pick out. It was a healthy, beautiful friendship.”

Lofgren’s solo CD is due out around Halloween. He’s also part of Rock ’n’ Roll Fantasy Camp (www.rock, a program where aspiring musicians can come train with the greats.

Big Picture News Inc.

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