March 18, 2010


Memphis music loses ‘Big Star’ — singer, songwriter Alex Chilton dies at 59 (Jody Callahan, Bob Mehr, March 17, 2010, Commercial Appeal)

The Memphis-born Chilton rose to prominence at age 16 when his gruff vocals powered the massive Box Tops hit "The Letter," as well as "Cry Like a Baby" and "Neon Rainbow."

After the Box Tops broke up in 1970, Chilton had a brief solo run in New York before returning to Memphis. He soon joined forces with a group of Anglo-pop-obsessed musicians -- fellow songwriter/guitarist Chris Bell, bassist Andy Hummel and drummer Jody Stephens -- to form Big Star.

The group became the flagship act for Ardent's Stax-distributed label. Big Star's 1972 debut album, #1 Record, met with critical acclaim but poor sales.

The group briefly disbanded, but reunited without Bell to record the album Radio City. Released in 1974, the second album suffered a similar fate, plagued by Stax's distribution woes.

The group made one more album, Third/Sister Lovers, with just Chilton and Stephens -- and it, too, was a minor masterpiece. Darker and more complex than the band's previous pop-oriented material, it remained unreleased for several years.

In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named all three Big Star albums to its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

"It's a fork in the road that a lot of different bands stemmed from," said Jeff Powell, a respected local producer who worked on some of Chilton's records. "If you're drawing a family tree of American music, they're definitely a branch."

In the mid-'70s, Chilton began what would be a polarizing solo career, releasing several albums of material, including 1979's Like Flies on Sherbet -- a strange, chaotically recorded mix of originals and obscure covers that divided fans and critics.
Alex Chilton, of "Box Tops" and "Big Star" Fame, Dies At 59 (Ian Ritz, 3/18/10, Epoch Times)

After complaints of feeling ill earlier on Wednesday, Memphis native and 60's Pop Music Star, Alex Chilton died in hometown of New Orleans at the age of 59. [...]

Chilton received success at an early age was the recorded vocalist for multiple number one hits at the young age of 16 with the "Box Tops".

After the "Box Tops" Chilton joined "Big Star" where he contributed in writing their first number one album titled “#1 Record” which had the track “In the Street”.

"In the Street" years later was used as the theme song for the popular sitcom "That 70’s Show".

Alex Chilton also produced tracks for "The Cramps" in the late 70’s.

-TRIBUTE: Alex Chilton: An appreciation (Clark Collis, 3/18/10, Entertainment Weekly)
-OBIT: Alex Chilton, Big Star Frontman, Dead At 59: Influential rock musician was scheduled to play at SXSW this week. (Gil Kaufman, 3/18/10,
-FAN SITE: Alex Chilton, Big Star & The Box Tops
-INTERVIEW: Alex Chilton Set to Go: Alex Chilton talks about his new album, the Box Tops, Big Star and "That $70 Show" (Rolling Stone, Feb 28, 2000)
-INTERVIEW: Alex Chilton: The Gibson Interview: The reluctant big star reluctantly answers a few questions (Russell Hall, 09.07.2007, Gibson)

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 18, 2010 11:57 AM
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