Clarence Clemons, hospitalized in Florida after a stroke, has had two brain surgeries but is "responsive and in stable condition," according the authoritative Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band fan website, backstreets.com.
Also, Carolyn Gusoff of Fox 5 News has reported that Clemons is paralyzed on the left side of his body, though backstreets.com quotes a "close friend" of Clemons as saying: "He was paralyzed on his left side, but now he's squeezing with his left hand."
It was first reported last night on the showbiz411.com that the saxophonist had suffered a stroke at his Florida home and was seriously ill. That news has since ben confirmed by several sources.
Showbiz411 added today that members of the E Street Band "were advised to get down to Florida as soon as possible."
Clemons is an original member of the E Street Band, and the oldest member of the band, at 69. He is someone whose importance to the New Jersey rock 'n' roll scene can't be overstated, and who is utterly irreplaceable.
His big, immediately recognizable saxophone wail is one of the cornerstones of the E Street sound. Songs such as "Born to Run," "Badlands" and "Jungleland" wouldn't have sounded remotely the same without him, and his larger-than-life personality always has given him a central role in the theatrics of the band's stage shows
As a sign of respect, Bruce Springsteen, when introducing the band, always introduces him last. Springsteen also gave him a crucial role in the autobiographical song "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," singing, about the moment when the E Street Band started to become successful: "When the change was made uptown and the Big Man joined the band/From the coastline to the city all the little pretties raise their hands."
Although the E Street Band is currently on hiatus, Clemons has continued to perform on his own, occasionally, and has been in the news lately after performing on Lady Gaga's new album, "Born This Way."
He was also the subject of a documentary, "Who Do I Think I Am? A Portrait of a Journey," that premiered at the Garden State Film Festival in Asbury Park, in April. The film documented the traveling that Clemons had done in China after Springsteen's "Rising Tour" of 2002-03. "I was kind of looking for myself," Clemons told The Star-Ledger in March. "The tour with Bruce was just so long: It took me out of my body, it took me out of myself. And finding who I am was what this (trip) turned into."
He was still, at the time, undergoing "major, major rehab," he said, from the knee replacement and spinal surgeries he has undergone over the last few years, but was hopeful that the band would tour again in 2012.
In February, Clemons told Rolling Stone magazine that he wanted keep touring with Springsteen as long as possible. "As long as my mouth, hands and brain still work I'll be out there doing it," he said.
Lady Gaga tweeted this morning that “my very close friend + musician on The Edge of Glory, Clarence Clemons is very sick. Can we all make some get well videos?”
Drummer and music industry executive Narada Michael Walden, whom Clemons has called a close friend and spiritual adviser, replied to an e-mail query today about Clemons by responding, “Love and prayers to the Big Man! He is our Hero!”
Clemons’ nephew, saxophonist Jake Clemons, updated his Facebook status today to say: “Please do not lose Hope!”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.