Being There

Ruminations on Music, Film and Culture


RIP Alex Chilton (1950-2010)

Alex Chilton

There are the bands we all know, and those that have somehow been kept a secret to the inner circle of music geeks. Alongside such legendary-but-obscure artists as Nick Drake, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Television and The Modern Lovers was Big Star, a Memphis-based rock band that made three critically acclaimed records for Stax including 1972’s #1 Record and 1974’s Radio City, both of which have been available packaged together, much like Gram Parsons’ first two records. Today’s mainstream music lovers may recognize “In The Street” as the song was used as the theme for TV’s That 70s Show.

Five years before #1 Record, Big Star’s primary singer and songwriter led The Box Tops on their hit single “The Letter.” Even at sixteen years old, Alex Chilton’s voice left a mark on listeners around the world.

Alex Chilton, lead singer and songwriter for Big Star, inspiration to so many – from The Replacements and Yo La Tengo to Wilco and Elliott Smith and so many more – passed away yesterday just as many of the acts he inspired were participating in the South-by-Southwest music festival. He was 59. The tragedy of his untimely passing is that a reunited Big Star were set to grace the SXSW stage this coming Saturday.

Big Star – Thirteen

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