The man had a heartbreaking voice. Only just below the top talent of the preceding era (Stones, Dylan, Reed, Lennon, etc.) Chilton ranks among the most brilliant of rock and rolls the second tier geniuses. Can’t believe he’s dead.
Another legend bites the dust, then. He was younger than me, too – makes me feel grateful I never took that rock-life path. His legacy will endure, of course. Apart from listening to his music, anyone really wanting to get inside Chilton’s head should read It Came From Memphis by Robert Gordon, the brilliantly-written story of that city’s alternative (ie. white) music scene – no Elvis, Booker T or Al Green but plenty of Chilton, Jim Dickinson, Spooner Oldham and their contemporaries. I’ve just found out that Alex released a new Big Star album, In Space, on Rykodisc in 2005, with fellow founder member Jody Stephens.
Power Pop, Americana, Blue-Eyed Soul, Psychobilly, Lo-Fi, Alternative and AM Pop where among all the styles of music the mercurial and ultra-talented Chilton conquered. His Box Top years where the most generally well known, his Big Star years were the peak of 70s pop but sadly ignored at the time, and his maddeningly inconsistent solo LPs where full of peaks and valleys but take risks hardly any other songwriter would take. The imprint of Big Star is still being felt to this day. I’ll never tire of the 3 70s era Big Star albums and the music he (and the lamented Chris Bell) made will be forever loved. Rest in peace Alex – we truly miss you!
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