Tribute to “The Big Man” Clarence Clemons


Tribute to the Big Man with photos by Barbara Pyle and a special performance by 8th grade Little Kids Rock students who played Jailhouse Rock at the B.B. King Blues Club in NYC with “The Big Man” at the first Right to Rock Celebration.

Clarence Clemons receives the inaugural “Big Man of the Year” award.

The “Big Man of the Year” Award

Clarence Clemons was a big man, with an even bigger heart. He stood up for kids everywhere, regardless of their economic status. One issue that was dear to Clarence was keeping music alive in our nation’s most economically challenged public schools. He was a vocal advocate who gave generously of his time.

“More than 50 percent of kids who play an instrument go on to college, yet music education programs at the inner city public schools who need them most continue to be hit hard with budget cuts,” Clemons once noted. “Little Kids Rock has responded to this problem in a really big way and made a positive impact on the lives of literally thousands of low-income students who wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity. I strongly encourage those who are in a position to do so to support their cause and spread the word about this inspirational program.”

In 2009, we celebrated Clarence for his incredible contributions to our work by creating the “Big Man of The Year Award” in his honor. Since that time, we give this honor to a musician who embodies the values of generosity and service that reflect Clarence’s legacy and our organization’s ideals, beginning with Bernie Williams in 2010.

Clarence’s passing was a huge loss to the many people who knew and loved him. In 2011, Clarence’s family and friends (Jake Clemons, Maureen and Steven Van Zandt and Victoria Clemons) presented the third annual “Big Man of The Year Award” to Lady Gaga, whose song “Edge of Glory” featured Clarence in his final collaboration.

In 2012, Little Kids Rock and Bruce Springsteen presented the fourth annual “Big Man of the Year Award” to his bandmate, Steven Van Zandt.

In 2013, we honored Darlene Love with the annual award, with special guests Brian Wilson, Elvis Costello, Bill Medley, Steven Van Zandt, Jake Clemons and Paul Shaffer.

This year, Little Kids Rock is proud to honor Clarence’s nephew and honorary board member of the organization, Jake Clemons. Following in his uncle’s footsteps, Jake has been a supporter of Little Kids Rock since 2009 and sits on the organization’s honorary board. During this time, Clemons has visited participating classrooms, contributed on Glen Hansard’s “Drive All Night” EP, which raised funds for Little Kids Rock, performed at several benefits and raised proceeds for the nonprofit during his 2013 show at the Stone Pony. He also recently released his solo debut EP, Embracing Light

We at Little Kids Rock are proud to honor Clarence’s incredible legacy.

We miss you Big Man!