Bruce Springsteen paid tribute to his friend of more than four decades and E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons at a private funeral in a Florida church.
The two-hour service for 69-year-old Clemons, known as the Big Man and "The Boss" Springsteen's main foil on stage over their long careers, was held at Palm Beach's Royal Poinciana Chapel. Faint strains of music could be heard outside the small grey church.
Clemons, who died from stroke complications on Saturday at his home in Singer Island, Florida, had suffered from numerous medical problems over the years.
He needed spinal surgery to relieve back pain and had two knee replacements. In recent years, he often needed to rest on stools on stage to play sax and percussion.
Springsteen, among those delivering eulogies, spoke of his long kinship with Clemons, according to those leaving the church.
Singer Jackson Browne and members of the E Street Band, including guitarist Steven Van Zandt and Springsteen's wife, Patti Scialfa, also were on hand. Pat Riley, general manager of the Miami Heat basketball team, was seen leaving the church.
Clemons' booming saxophone solos became a signature sound for the E Street Band on many key songs, especially on Springsteen's breakthrough album in 1975, Born To Run.
The saxophonist's legacy and place in the band was captured in the song Tenth Avenue Freeze Out. It has the famous lyric, "When the change was made uptown and the Big Man joined the band. From the coastline to the city, all the little pretties raised their hands".
The anthem is often used to introduce E Street members during concerts.
Clemons, the oldest member of the E Street Band, also performed with the Grateful Dead, the Jerry Garcia Band, and Ringo Starr's All Star Band. He recorded with a wide range of artists including Aretha Franklin, Roy Orbison and Browne. He also had his own band called the Temple of Soul.
More recently, he was introduced to a whole new generation of fans when he performed his signature tenor sax on Lady Gaga's video The Edge of Glory.
In a statement posted on his internet site, Springsteen said: "Clarence lived a wonderful life. He carried within him a love of people that made them want to love him. He created a wondrous and extended family. He loved the saxophone, loved our fans and gave everything he had every time he stepped on stage."
Gyorgy Lakatos, a musician who said Clemons performed on his forthcoming album, said Springsteen's eulogy was among the most moving parts of the service.
"Bruce was talking so beautiful," he said.
Many of the mourners slipped away outside the view of a small group of media, riding off in a string of Bentleys, Mercedes and BMWs. A small group milled around in the distance on the church property hours after the service finished, as a large photo of a beaming Clemons was loaded into the back of a black SUV.
As mourners converged in Florida, New Jersey governor Chris Christie lauded Clemons in an executive order as "a gifted musician, remarkable performer and iconic figure".
He also ordered flags lowered to half-mast in the musician's honour.