Like most Jersey Shore music veterans, Southside Johnny Lyon was "kind of shocked" when Clarence Clemons from Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band passed away last June.
And when Springsteen decided to tour this year, Lyon had an early inkling that it would cost him one of his own saxophone players -- Ed Manion, a longtime member of Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, who's also been part of horn sections Springsteen has taken on the road before.
"When Clarence died, everybody thought, 'Well, if Bruce goes out, he's gonna want to take a sax player,' " says Lyon, 63, whose Asbury Jukes was co-founded with eventual E Street Band guitarist Steve Van Zandt. Springsteen also co-wrote songs and sang on some of the Jukes' early albums.
"I encouraged Eddie to go with Bruce. He's gonna make more money there, and do something different. Clarence's nephew (Jake) is going to go out with them, too. It's just this great pool of musicians. We all know they'll sound great."
Lyon, meanwhile, is forging ahead undeterred with his latest edition of the Jukes. In fact, this may be one of his busiest years yet.
Last July, Lyon and his band joined Van Zandt in Asbury Park for a live performance of "Men Without Women," the 1982 debut album by Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul that was originally created as a Jukes album. Lyon is planning to release a recording of the show by the summer. And he's finishing up what he calls an "acoustic-esque" album with another band called Southside Johnny & the Poor Fools, which plays more straightforward rock 'n' roll than the Jukes' soul sound.
"It's gonna be a busy year -- a lot of shows, a lot of studio work, a lot of (song) writing," says Lyon, whose last album, "Pills and Ammo," came out in 2010. "There's a lot of songs I want to finally put down in more concrete form than just lyrics and some melody ideas.
"So it's going to be very much a working year this year -- which is a very good thing. There are years when you think, 'God, when am I gonna get out of this?' and years when you're like, 'What do we do next?!' This is one of (the latter). I have the stamina to keep going, so I look forward to the challenge of doing all the things I've set forth."
Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes perform Sunday, March 4, at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25. Call 248-544-3030 or visit www.themagicbag.com.
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