Big Star Singer and Cult Icon Alex Chilton Dead at 59

March 17th, 2010 by Daniel Kreps Leave a reply »

Photo: Michael Ochs Archive/Getty

Alex Chilton, singer and guitarist of Big Star, one of the most influential rock groups to emerge from the early 1970s, has passed away at the age of 59. Chilton reportedly suffered a heart attack today in New Orleans, just days before Big Star were scheduled to perform at the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas. Chilton had been complaining about his health earlier in the day, and was eventually taken to a New Orleans hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Big Star drummer Jody Stephens confirmed Chilton’s passing, Memphis’ Commercial Appeal reports. “Alex passed away a couple of hours ago,” Stephens said. “I don’t have a lot of particulars, but they kind of suspect that it was a heart attack.”

Read Rob Sheffield’s tribute to Alex Chilton.

Chilton began his musical career in his teens as a member of the Box Tops before returning to his native Memphis to form Big Star with guitarist/co-songwriter Chris Bell, drummer Jody Stephens and bassist Andy Hummel. Blending power pop with the sound of the Beatles and the Beach Boys, Big Star were critically acclaimed but largely ignored commercially. In their short time together in the early-’70s — though Bell exited the band after #1 Record, Hummel after Radio City — Big Star only released three studio albums, but what three incredible albums they were: 1972’s #1 Record, 1974’s Radio City and 1978’s dark but beautiful Third/Sister Lovers all placed on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and their classic tracks “Thirteen” and “September Gurls” both made the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

While they only lasted a few years, Big Star’s impact continues to reverberate decades later. R.E.M. and the Replacements both named Big Star and Alex Chilton as maj...

Article Source: Rolling Stone : Rock and Roll Daily


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