June 22, 2011

The Big Man

As we raise a glass to the late great Clarence Clemons, whats left of my mind drift's back to a fun evening back in the early 80's.

The Big Man had a club in Red Bank, New Joisey (if memory serves called "Big Man's West"- I wonder if there was an "East" too).

One night my sorta girlfriend and her friends were heading from our Noo Yawk (ie Forest Hills- NY- home of the Ramones- you got a problem with that?) environs to the club in NJ, as one of her friends was engaged in events of a carnal nature with some mope who was playing in a band that night. As I was in contact range, she asked if i wanted to go along, as there was a rumor that The Big Man and The Boss were going to appear and play that nite.

Your humble narrator, being Mr. Asshole Punk Rocker, wanted no part of seeing Mr. Springsteen, but went along, as the lure of a road trip, alcohol, messing with peckerheads from NJ; and a big white van proved irresistible.
Looking back on it, some of the best times of my life were because I was lured into a big white van by teenage girls with alcohol. Kids... don't try this anymore.

So we load into the van, whose driver (who we'll call "Charlie the douchebag drummer" - mainly because he was named Charlie, a drummer and a total douchebag) absolutely hated me (later discovered because he had the hots for my girl). Charlie was not thrilled to have me as a passenger, but it was sorta tough crap on him, as I, being Mr. Asshole Punk Rocker, was needed for this trip into the "swamps of Jersey" (registered tm).

So, off we go, in a big white cargo van (ie- no seats, being jostled on a 2 hour ride). The air was thick (think Cheech And Chong's "Up In Smoke") and many beverages of an adult nature were consumed. Finally, nature called, and Charlie the douchebag drummer WOULD NOT PULL OVER. At some point, I threw open the loading doors and pissed out the back; only to discover that we were flying on the New Jersey Turnpike and I was baptizing the car in back of me.

Rock n roll.

We eventually make it to "Big Man's West" and hang out drinking by the bar, ignoring the stupid band (and all things New Jersey). People in NJ were big, and despite my drunkenness, I was still sane enough to want to avoid becoming a grease smudge in a back alley.

Eventually, it's announced that St. Bruce and Clarence would be taking the stage to play a few songs. I had just thrown a couple of bucks in the jukebox (and it was probably my last 2 bucks.)

So while everyone else rushed to the stage, we hung in the bar area and listened to the Jukebox. The song playing was The Turtles' "Happy Together". After the songs played, we went over to the stage and watched Springsteen and Clarence tear the roof off the joint.

I ended up marrying that girl. Still am, in fact.

Rest In Peace, Clarence


Jon said...

It's good when you can remember stuff like that. Having been born in New Jersey there are certain things that I just don't fuck with. It's not so much a question of liking or disliking them. It's about knowing who your people are. I pretty much don't fuck around when it comes to Bruce Springsteen, The Four Seasons, Frank Sinatra and the Jersey City Democratic Party.

Mike E. said...

Great story, I laughed out loud here at work while reading about you "watering the car behind you." Good stuff.

AC'63 said...

you need to write that book! Good story, nice to see wife liked you and not the douche.

Anonymous said...

Great Story! As always!!!!! great blog!! As Always!!

The Smithereens are from New Jersey and they are a better rock and roll band than anything that has ever come from New York('s alright if you like saxophones)

Big Ern xxx

Melbourne Australia

P-Rod said...

And then there was the time the russian premier drove us in a limo to watch Bruce do his magic. Gonna miss the Big Man terribly. The same way I miss Keef. Oh wait...really? you're kidding?

Uh... my bad, it appears Keef is still with us.

RIP Clarence

BAMstutz said...

Well, I never. . .

My Clarence story is much more civilized. This being the early nineties and I'm living the deadhead dream in SF complete with ponytail and sandals. We get into my friends Subaru station wagon and head up to Mill Valley in Marin to see Clarence at the Sweetwater Saloon. The main reason we're going is because the Sweetwater is known as the place where Bobby Weir might show up on any given night.

We get there a little early. The place has about 10 tables and a bar. We're surprised to find the table right in front of the stage is the only one open. We're the youngest people in there and about the only people without white hair. We stumble politely between full tables to our front row seats.

The show is fine, but I'm too frickin close to that horn and my neck hurts from looking up. At one point near the end Clarence changes the reed in his horn and drops the used reed on the stage right in front of me.

I wait for it to dry and pick it up. I still have that reed somewhere. I wonder if anyone on eBay would believe me?

PS. Bobby didn't show up. We returned to Sweetwater another time to see Hot Tuna. That was great! Still no Bobby.

Nazz Nomad said...

p-rod: I believe the "premiers'" name at that bruce show was gorby- that will have to make for another story for another post- if I remember correctly, there was almost fisticuffs at that show due to spilt beer and angry women.

bamstutz- i will pay big $$$... not for the reed, but for a picture of you in sandals and a ponytail!

jon- you were lucky to escape NJ- as you know, it hasn't gotten any better since your exodus.
ac- most days, i think she realizes she made the right decision

mike- jersey tkpe stories are legion... there was a place in trenton (southern nj) called city gardens - legendary punk rock place- if I had a dollar for every mishap I had on the turnpike...

Nazz Nomad said...

Big ern- caught the smithereens many a time- Pat D- (lead singer) actually ran for political office awhile back

Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

I remember reading about club shows like the one you describe in Jersey. Stories like that, I hope, are one of the things that keep making the kids want to do their own rocking.

Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...
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