[Photo via godlis.com]
Paying tribute today to the sad passing of one the most influential musicians of a generation, the one and only Alex Chilton succumbed to a heart attack today in his home of New Orleans at the much too young age of 59. From his teen years in the Boxtops to co-founding the seminal band Big Star in Memphis in the early ’70s to his later solo work, he’s influenced everyone from REM to The Replacements to Wilco and is still influencing young bands today. His legendary status was bolstered by the recent resurgence in popularity of Big Star, who were even scheduled to play at the renowned SXSW music festival in Austin, TX this coming Saturday. He was equally adept at writing a glorious jangly pop gem like Thirteen or September Gurls as he was at mining the tortured underside of his psyche in songs like Holocaust, quite possibly the darkest saddest song ever written.
I only had the privilege of seeing him play live one time back in the late ’80’s but did get lucky enough to sit and chat with him at the bar for quite a while and it still remains one of my favorite musical memories. An immense void was left in the music world today.
R.I.P. Alex Chilton 1950-2010
Alex Chilton, Chris Bell, Andy Hummel, and Jody Stephens,you may not know their names but if you’ve listened to any rock music in the past three decades you’ve undoubtedly heard their influence. Much like the Velvet Underground, Big Star records have become required listening for anyone looking to start a band.
It’s been over 35 years since Big Star initially released their influential first two records, #1 Record and Radio City. This June 16th marks the beginning of a treasure trove of releases for the band as Ardent/Stax Records reissues completely remastered versions of those two records on one cd, including a never before released single mix of In The Street, a song which Cheap Trick brought new life to as the theme to “That 70’s Show” and a single edit of O My Soul form Radio City. Wholly underappreciated in their day, Big Star’s quirky and unique take on jangly guitar power pop is still influencing bands today from REM to Teenage Fanclub to Wilco to countless others.
But thats just the beginning, in September, Rhino records releases Keep An Eye On The Sky, an amazing 98 track box set spanning from 1968 to 1975 and including pre Big Star recordings,unreleased demos,and many live and alternate takes. It also promises extensive liner notes and rare and never before seen photos of the band. I for one, can’t wait, this looks amazing.
Never one to rest easy, Rhino completes the trifecta by also releasing the same week a special Rhino Handmade Deluxe Edition of Chris Bell’s exquisite solo album I Am The Cosmos.
In celebration of their influence, an array of videos today of various Big Star / Chris Bell covers for you, plus one original by the man himself, Mr Alex Chilton.
The Ballad Of El Goodo
In The Street
Don’t Lie To Me
Alex Chilton – When My Baby’s Beside Me
Give Me Another Chance
Watch The Sunrise
Way Out West (with a bizarre Styx song intro)
Back Of A Car
I’m In Love With A Girl
You and Your Sister(Chris Bell)
This last one’s not a Big Star cover but I though it ws a fitting way to close out this post.
Citizen Helene – The Alex Chilton Song