By Mike Bruno
Updated June 18, 2011 at 12:00 PM EDT

Clarence Clemons, the longtime saxophonist in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, died on Saturday of complications from a stroke. He was 69. “The Big Man,” as he was affectionately called, played in Springsteen’s band since 1972.

“Clarence lived a wonderful life,” Springsteen said in a statement. “He carried within him a love of people that made them love him. He created a wondrous and extended family. He loved the saxophone, loved our fans and gave everything he had every night he stepped on stage. 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. 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.”

Clemons died at a hospital in Palm Beach, Fla., where he had been since he suffered a stroke last Sunday, a spokesperson for Springsteen and the E Street Band told CNN. He was surrounded by family, including his wife, Victoria.

Clemons had been particularly active lately, appearing on two singles — “Hair” and “The Edge of Glory” — on Lady Gaga’s Born This Way, and performing with the pop star at the recent American Idol finale.

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