Thursday, 18 March 2010

Alex Chilton R.I.P.

2010 is turning into an awful year if deaths of musical heroes is an index to consider. I woke this morning to learn the sad news that Alex Chilton died yesterday. He was 59 and scheduled to play a big gig at South By Southwest later in the week.

I got into Big Star as a teenager. Reading about their influence was unavoidable in interviews with many of the bands I loved - REM, The Lemonheads, Teenage Fanclub, The Jayhawks and so on. I've no doubt that Thirteen is far and away my favourite Big Star song because Wilco covered it.

Here then is one of their most-loved tracks and two great covers.

MP3: Big Star - September Gurls

Buy Big Star's Radio City - 7digital | Amazon

MP3: Wilco - Thirteen

Buy Big Star, Small World - Amazon

MP3: Evan Dando - The Ballad of El Goodo

Buy the Empire Records soundtrack - 7digital | Amazon

It was only relatively recently that I learnt about Alex Chilton's pre-Big Star years. As a teenager Chilton was the lead singer of Memphis blue-eyed soul group The Box Tops. Their 1967 single The Letter, produced by Dan Penn, was a multi-million seller. You'd never guess it from hearing his vocal but Chilton was just 16 years old.

MP3: The Box Tops - The Letter

If you've a penchant for jangly guitar and top melodies and are unfamiliar with Big Star do rectify that.You used to be able get Big Star's first pair of albums in a classic 'twofer' but it seems they're now only available individually (which is preferable actually as you can better enjoy the William Eggleston photo on the cover of Radio City).

Related Links
Alex Chilton dies, The Memphis Commercial Appeal
Remembering Big Star's Alex Chilton - nice piece in the Guardian
Alex Chilton: I'm In Love With That Song - post on the Aquarium Drunkard blog


Glamour Bomb said...

Hi Nigel!

Thanks for using my template. Now yours is a blog I can really get into. Viva la musica! =)

Looking forward to reading your posts.

Love & Rockets,

Cocktails said...

I was really quite upset when I found this out yesterday morning via Bob Lefsetz. I also discovered Big Star through Teenage Fanclub, REM and they've been a regular fixture on the stereo since the early 90s. I know I'll be getting them back out again this weekend.

You might be interested in Bob Lefsetz's personal piece here:

Tony Heywood said...

Lovely blog.Its odd how something like searching for such sad news can turn up a treat like your blog.

Have posted a little something about Alex on my blog as well.

He will be missed

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