Chesapeake Home Theatre & Hi-Fi

Larry Dent is the owner of Chesapeake Home Theatre & Hi-Fi.

These articles were written for the Islander Weekly.

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Larry's Tech Talk

“Tenth Avenue Freeze-out”

You may have heard the sad news last week that Clarence Clemons passed away. Also known as the “Big Man”, he was of course known for playing tenor saxophone with Bruce Springsteen and “The E Street Band”. He was a soulful musician that jammed with many people and bands. But you may not have known that he attended Maryland State College (now University of MD Eastern Shore) and was awarded a music and athletic scholarship. In addition to being a musician, Clarence was a gifted athlete scouted by the Dallas Cowboys and Cleveland Browns. A knee injury prevented him from making the NFL, but didn’t stop his passion for music.

After hearing the news about Clarence, I tried to remember the first time I heard Springsteen’s band, and it all came back to me. It was back in the early to mid seventies. There was a bunch of guys at a small college in North Carolina I attended from New Jersey that blasted their stereos all day and all night. We didn’t have air conditioning so everybody’s windows on campus were usually open. I thought the music was OK, but these guys were convinced that this new guy, Bruce Springsteen was the next big-time artist. Well, Elvis will always be King, but this Springsteen dude quickly became the “Boss”. And his new sax player was a big part of the band’s success. Bruce even wrote lyrics in the hit song “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out” about Clarence Clemons.

“when the change was made uptown
and the Big Man joined the band
from the coastline to the city
all the pretties raise their hands”

And how was this music played back then? On vinyl record albums, of course. 8 track tapes were on their way out. Cassette tapes were just coming in, but everybody had a vinyl record collection. Nice try kid, T- Rex had vacated the premises years before! Anyway, vinyl records were very inconvenient. Vinyl albums developed snap crackle and pops, weighed a ton, took up space, and created un-friendly confrontations if that needle was accidentally touched or pushed. But they sounded great! Vinyl records utilized analog technology (hey, digital wasn’t invented yet!), produced a very warm deep sound that believe or not, isn’t reproduced digitally to this day. And there was one more thing, the
album cover. For starters, kids today play and buy songs. But if you put a vinyl album on the turntable back then, you probably listened to the entire side of the album. I learned to love many tunes that I would have missed if I had only purchased a single song as a lot of us now do from ITunes..

Then there was the album cover. My friends and I used to love to read every little piece of info on the album cover. Most people to this day think Eric Clapton played all those guitar licks on the album “Layla and other Assorted Love Songs ”. Sorry, Eric played mostly rhythmn guitar, but if you read the album cover you knew that Duane Allman played lead guitar . And who sat in on keyboards? Who was the producer of “Eat a Peach” (Tom Dowd)? Who was Jimi Hendrix’s drummer? If you had a “low tech” album cover you would have known that Jimi’s drummer was Buddy Miles also known for his song “Them Changes”. And you would have known the name of the sax player in the “E Street Band”.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the latest entertainment electronic technology. But sometimes “low tech” can be a good thing too. I will miss my album covers, and we’ll all miss Clarence Clemons.

Rest in peace “Big Man”.