Scooter, the Big Man, and Me: In Memory of Clarence Clemons

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About Andrew Cotto

Andrew Cotto is the author of THE DOMINO EFFECT and OUTERBOROUGH BLUES: A BROOKLYN MYSTERY. His novels can be found at Amazon and Barnes&Noble.  Learn more about Andrew at his website.


  1. great article! Im a Jersey girl now so I have been listening to some Springstein, he’s okay but JERSEY SUCKS! ;)

    • Don’t worry, Mina, you’ll be a fine “Jersey Girl” someday!

    • Mark Flaherty says:

      I LOVE this article! I immediately pulled up Born to Run on my iPod and am playing it in my office as I write this…good writing moves people. This article beautifully illustrates how music acts as a bookmark in the story of our lives. Every once in a while it’s good to flip back to an old forgotten page and enjoy the vivid memories that only music can stir…to remember where you were, where you were going, and to be proud of just how far you have come. Clarence Clemens and all of those responsible for creating the soundtrack of our lives never die. Thanks Andrew…I have not listened to Born to Run in WAY too long!

  2. Great Article!
    I’m so glad that you married the girl in the picture.

  3. Eric Valkys says:

    This boy can write!! Great article

    • Eric Valkys says:

      Love the line in the article where you worked in alittle Bruce as you “were ready to take the long walk”!! Accidental or pure genius??

      • Ah, great catch, E! There’s one more small reference to a Springsteen song in the article – it’s far more subtle, though. I’ll give you a few hints: same album, three words (prepositional phrase). Good luck!

  4. Well, this is a hell of a lot better than my story about the day the lead synth player from Soft Cell died. Thanks a lot. Great work!

  5. Bruce will play on from here on out but it will be different from now on. Clarence was the Big Man and you captured the beauty of that friendship, that life-shifting partnership beautifully. Thanks.

  6. Thanks for posting this. 1000memories created a tribute site for Clarence today – – thought you’d appreciate it.

  7. Great perspective. Bruce and Clarence were a terrific team. That sweet sax will continue to be a living tribute to Clarence.

    BTW – nice touch that Danny Rorro loves to jam out to Springsteen music in your book, The Domino Effect. I see now how much Born To Run touched your life, growing up in NJ.

    • Yes, great observation: there is an intentional Springsteen presence in THE DOMINO EFFECT. The fact that Bruce is the only musician Danny likes is intented to speak to his aesthetic. And there’s the line where Danny’s mentioning his singular devotion to the wonderful Brenda Divine: “She was my Springsteen. I didn’t like anybody else.”

      The specific songs that are referenced (“Rosalita,” “Growing Up,” “Thunder Road”) are also intended to inform the narrative in meaningful ways.

      Of course, THE DOMINO EFFECT is not “my” story, but growing up in NJ and being a fan has influenced me as a writer in many ways. Great connection. Thanks!

  8. Great article, Andrew. Along with millions of others, I was pretty crushed when I heard the news on Saturday. My first Springsteen record was Darkness on the Edge of Town. I was 12, I think. The kids in Battle Mountain, Nevada weren’t that into Springsteen, either… I may have been the only kid in the state listening to Springsteen back then. But those songs about wanting to get away, find the promised land, figure things out and survive really resonated with me. A few years later I finally got ahold of BTR, and that cemented my relationship with Springsteen and the band. And of course, after hearing BTR and Jungleland, the Big Man was my hero.

  9. This is a really beautiful article. It is nostalgic and moving. Really just wonderful writing.

  10. supertuscan says:

    Wonderfully written Andrew. Thank you. Bruce & Clarence shared a special relationship and they’ll always be a part of the fabric of New Jersey. I wasn’t a Bruce guy growing up because the hoodlums who I hung with listened to hard rock and Mr. Springsteen just didn’t fit he bill. Now that I’m in my 40′s and somewhat mature, a number of his songs have grown on me. Your first record purchase adventure brought me, and possibly a number of your readers ,back to a time when life was real easy and all about having fun. My kids last day of school is today and they’ll have 10 weeks off. Did you hear me…10 weeks off !!! What a nice life we had when we were 7. I remember my first record purchase like it was yesterday…the Destroyer album by Kiss, 1976 at Crazy Eddie. For those of you who grew up in NJ around that time you might remember that Crazy Eddie ” HAD PRICES SO LOW HE WAS PRACTICALLY GIVING IT ALL AWAY!!!”

  11. I listened to Be True a couple times the other night in my mind, and
    then for real. Something about how the sax blows near the end, it
    shakes me every time. Those two had a visceral connection to each
    other that exploded out as music, and this article captures that. RIP Big Man.

  12. This was lovely and sentimental in all the best ways. It captured the magic of their relationship and all those that it inspired. Oh, and you’re hot, Cotto!

  13. Eloforte says:

    Great stories, I love to read them all. Best of all I know the author and his stories are as great as he is.

  14. Andy,

    Thank you so much for sharing this article. I don’t know if you remember me but I lived a few houses away from you on Brookfield Avenue. Man, you sure pinned that time when Born to Run came out. I’m sure it was my brother, Bill, who was working on cars in the front yard cranking out Springsteen tunes. You brought me back in time. Thanks so much. Alice Johnson Quinlan

    • Hi Alice! Of course I remember you! And, yeah, it was your brother across the street and the Junkins next door that gave me those great images of motor boys doing their thing. I hope that you are well. It was a great time to be kids, and I’m glad the article brought you back. I’ve written a couple of novels (one’s out now and the other is due next June – see my website: I read from the released novel at the Glen Rock Inn a few weeks ago!! So funny, but I’m still best friends with Mike O’Shea and others from Glen Rock, and I married a Glen Rock girl, too. One of the novels I’ll write someday will be a fictionalized version of growing up in that isolated little neighborhood with so much freedom and so much to do. It will be called DEAD END KIDS and hopefully I’ll be able to get started on it soon. Thanks, so much, for reaching out. It was great to hear from you. Send me your e-mail or friend me on facebook if you want to see my regular articles. Best, Andy.

  15. Your article was touching and brought back memories of myself. I apparently am a few years older so in the late 70′s would save my babysitting money to buy albums, didn’t always matter by who, just to listen to all kinds of things. One day I stumbled on The Wild, the Innocent and the E-Street Shuffle and, well, that was it! So sad to hear of Clarence’s passing. Had the opportunity to see them on stage over 10 times and it can never be the same!

  16. Hi Marnie,

    Thanks so much for reading the article and sharing your thoughts. I’m glad it brought back some memories. Just in case you’re interested, I just published a novel where the main character is recalling his adolescence, and he happens to be a huge Springsteen fan with a few of the songs informing the narrative in a big way. It’s called THE DOMINO EFFECT and you can read about it on my website.

    Regardless, thanks for writing.

    Best Regards,


  17. Great work Andrew, looking forward to reviewing your book.

  18. Thanks, Angelique!! Much appreciated.

  19. Frank Gioiosa says:

    Hey andrew its Frank .G your old neighbor from Glen Rock how is CHris and your family?


  1. [...] recently wrote about the Bruce Springsteen album Born to Run. It was the death of Clarence Clemons that inspired [...]

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