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Clarence Clemons (the Big Man) And Family Once Called Somerset Home

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Nick Clemons, eldest son of E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons, once attended St. Matthias Elementary School.
Photo: Nick Clemons.

Here’s a little bit of trivia for ya: From 1972 to 1975, the township was home to the Big Man and his family.

The Big Man being, of course, Clarence Clemons, long-time saxophonist for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.

Clemons eldest son, Clarence Clemons III – who goes by Nick – has fond memories of his time in Somerset, even though times were tough.

“Somerset will always be a part of my life, part of my roots,” he said.

The Clemons family – Clarence II and his wife, Jacqueline, and sons Clarence III and Charles – lived in a two-bedroom apartment on Philips Road.

During that time, Nick Clemons attended St. Matthias Elementary School, he said.

“I could walk, but I had to take a bus,” Clemons said. “It was weird.”

The early 70s were lean years for the Clemons family, Nick said.

“It was tough,” he said. “My mother was working as a therapist at Marlboro (Psychiatric Hospital). Then she cleaned office buildings at night. At the same time, my father was still chasing paychecks with his horn.”

The elder Clemons was playing mainly with “Stormin’” Norman Seldin and his band, Joyful Noyze at the shore, but he was also a correctional officer in Jamesburg.

“It was all about the paycheck,” Nick Clemons said. “My father was always working.”

The family moved out of the township in 1975, after which his parents divorced, Clemons said. He now lives in Monmouth County, although he sometimes finds himself in the area to attend Somerset Patriots baseball games.

Although he has said that his father wanted him to go into law, Nick Clemons was bitten by the musical bug and has his own band, the Nick Clemons Band, which has an album – Just To Survive – out on iTunes and is preparing for a European tour in November.

As a tune-up, the band will be performing at JC Dobbs in Philadelphia on Sept. 27.

Although it’s been several decades since he called Franklin home, Clemons said, he still keeps in touch with friends from the township.

“There are some people I still Facebook with now and then,” he said.

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