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Springsteen may or may not have been to Pozo

It turns out that Clarence Clemons wasn’t completely full of it when he wrote about hanging out with Bruce Springsteen at the Pozo Saloon.

“I’ve been there,” said Clemons, the sax player for Springsteen’s E Street Band, commonly known as “The Big Man.”

But whether Springsteen has ever been to the saloon — as Clemons described in his book “The Big Man: Real Life & Tall Tales” — is still a bit fuzzy.

“I’m pretty sure he has,” said Clemons, still tired from the band’s latest stadium tour. “His family is in California, and they hang out there a lot.”

The problem is, the E Street Band has traveled the world many times over, and sometimes places and events meld together. And portions of the book admittedly take artistic license. So, in theory, the heartfelt talk they supposedly had at the Pozo Saloon could have happened somewhere else.

It’s not unusual for well-known celebrities to pass through the county. In recent years, people such as Barbra Streisand, Mel Gibson and the late Michael Jackson (in disguise) have been spotted here.

But Springsteen is known for performing before massive crowds and then keeping a low profile outside the stadiums.

Clemons’ book concludes with a chapter that takes place at the historic saloon. According to the book, he and Springsteen met there and virtually went unnoticed — except for one fellow patron, who recognized Clemons but not Springsteen.

The chapter’s details are questionable because parts of the book — chapters printed on gray pages — are at least somewhat fictionalized.

When The Tribune originally wrote about the Pozo chapter, one of the gray sections, a request to interview Clemons was denied by his publicists. But Don Reo, the book’s co-author, read the story online and eventually hooked up The Tribune with his longtime friend.

It was also Reo who introduced Clemons to Pozo in the 1990s.

“I lived on Pozo Road for a while,” said Reo, a television writer who was producing the show “Blossom” and writing the pilot for “The John Larroquette Show” when he lived on Santa Margarita Ranch.

Clemons said he enjoyed the seclusion the area offered, which reminded him of the Virginia town where he grew up.

“It’s that kind of place, and I’m that kind of guy,” said Clemons, who now lives in Florida.

Nowadays, he and Springsteen seldom see each other outside of shows. But back in the day, he said, they often traveled off the beaten path together, hanging out in funky places like the Pozo Saloon and talking about music.

“In the old days, we did a lot more of that kind of thing,” he said. Then, with a chuckle, he added: “And now we’re businessmen.”

His book isn’t so much a tell-all but a series of vignettes, some more fact-driven, others with more of an easygoing narrative flow.

“The idea was to create something that wasn’t your standard show and tell,” said Clemons, famous for his sax solos on “Jungleland” and “Born To Run.” “We created something that was done to entertain. It reads like a novel, and it’s a lot more interesting.”

Stories like hanging out with Ringo Starr, working 16 hours to record a sax solo for “Jungleland” and how he met Springsteen are true.

The part where Clemons unintentionally reached Groucho Marx on a pay phone? Up for debate.

Springsteen did once stop in Templeton to get a soda, Reo said. But he didn’t serendipitously pass Josh Brolin — with Brolin failing to recognize him — as the story was related.

“Bruce and I have talked about this notion of close calls, ships passing through the night,” Reo wrote in an e-mail.

While no one at the Pozo Saloon can recall seeing Clemons or Springsteen there, Reo said that’s not surprising. They usually don’t create a scene.

“People have a tendency to back off and leave them alone,” he said. “Bruce moves through the world in a way that you don’t notice him. He blends in.”

Which might explain why a woman really did once recognize The Big Man and not The Boss, and handed her camera to Springsteen so she could have her picture taken with Springsteen’s sax player.

“That really did happen,” Reo said.

Just maybe not in Pozo.

“Some of it didn’t happen like we said it did, but it did happen,” Clemons explained.

But Reo thinks Springsteen has been to the saloon. After all, he said, Springsteen read the book and didn’t refute the section.

“I’m not ready to say that Bruce hasn’t been to the Pozo Saloon,” he said.

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