Alex Chilton RIP 2010

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I'm not sure how much of a hand The Posies had in Big Star's last album (the 2005 one) but I thought this song was pretty ace...

billstevejim, Thursday, 18 March 2010 04:22 (seven years ago) Permalink

"the william eggleston exhibit at the art institute of chicago gallery tomorrow--saw this in new york, definitely go!"

me too! i spent the whole time looking around for big star/chilton-related stuff, and found plenty. was the cadillac/dolls photo from "like flies" there? i don't recall... it's just another thing i have big star to thank for.. eggleston is one of my favorite photographers because of them.

zingzing, Thursday, 18 March 2010 04:23 (seven years ago) Permalink

akon/family (Curt1s Stephens), Thursday, 18 March 2010 04:26 (seven years ago) Permalink

On that "Alex Chilton 1970" record I kinda love the cover of "Sugar Sugar."

billstevejim, Thursday, 18 March 2010 04:32 (seven years ago) Permalink

was the cadillac/dolls photo from "like flies" there?


dmr, Thursday, 18 March 2010 04:44 (seven years ago) Permalink

thought so... if i remember correctly, it was on a wall all it's own (even if it was a little corner wall beside a door frame). but i could just be making something up. i went with a buddy who was familiar with big star, but had never heard any solo chilton stuff. i hooked him up and his life has gone to hell since.

zingzing, Thursday, 18 March 2010 04:50 (seven years ago) Permalink

chilton's on yahoo's front page national news section.

zingzing, Thursday, 18 March 2010 04:51 (seven years ago) Permalink


Thanks to whoever pointed me to "Pray For Rain" upthread. What a lovely song.

Chuck_Tatum, Thursday, 18 March 2010 04:52 (seven years ago) Permalink

there was also a crazy video piece that was all doped up footage of Alex Chilton, Jim Dickinson and everyone else who figured into "It Came From Memphis" (amazing book btw) xpost re eggleston exhibit

dmr, Thursday, 18 March 2010 04:55 (seven years ago) Permalink

yeah that film is called Stranded In Canton... it's on YouTube:

Hatch, Thursday, 18 March 2010 05:00 (seven years ago) Permalink

this is real sad. only 59? that means he was.. 20 years old when the first big star album came out? 21? wtf.

by another name (amateurist), Thursday, 18 March 2010 05:07 (seven years ago) Permalink

i have to say, if someone had asked to come up with a list of ten musicians whose death would sadden me most, i probably would've forgotten to include him. but damned if this doesn't hurt so bad. makes those ten names seem kind of insignificant at the moment.

johnnyo, Thursday, 18 March 2010 05:11 (seven years ago) Permalink

Oh fuck you have to be shitting me. Take care Alex :(

Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Farting in Space (NickB), Thursday, 18 March 2010 05:12 (seven years ago) Permalink

You never know whose death will hit you the hardest. I haven't been this heartbroken over a music-related death since John Peel in 2004 (who, before then, would've been an unlikely candidate as well).

Johnny Fever, Thursday, 18 March 2010 05:13 (seven years ago) Permalink

Have officially broken out the single malt. Anyone who wants a glass is welcome to come over.

Elvis Telecom, Thursday, 18 March 2010 05:14 (seven years ago) Permalink

"Too bad. Such a drag. OW! So much pain. Down the drain. A lot of us haven't got many friends."

johnnyo, Thursday, 18 March 2010 05:16 (seven years ago) Permalink

You know that whole "at least the albums remain" phrase always kinda grated on me. Always seemed kinda dismissive but then I couldn't really separate the work from the person. Sure much of his later work was ephemeral, but those albums got me through a lot of good times and shitty times. I suspect they'll keep doing that.

Elvis Telecom, Thursday, 18 March 2010 05:30 (seven years ago) Permalink

listening to "Ballad Of El Goodo", drinking rum

sleeve, Thursday, 18 March 2010 05:32 (seven years ago) Permalink

Guys, allow me to be frank with this half-bottle-of-wine post, a little spontaneous, impromptu reaction to this recent shocking bit of news we all got tonight.

I have been on ilx for like 8 or 9 years or some sad amount of time and I have seen my share of RIP threads and whole/half-hearted tributes to obscure ephemeral somebodies that meant something to someone at some time.

But this time is different. Alex Chilton was one of my all-time favorites, I held this man to a completely different level of opinion, judgement and respect than I reserve for any artist I come across.

Aside from undoutedly hearing "The Letter" in a Piggly Wiggly hand-in-hand with my Mother as a snot-nosed kid, I had my first heavy Chilton (well, Big Star) phase from ages 18-21. I had an Italian boot of "Sister Lovers" (pre-rykodisc era) with an alternate sequence that I have reprogrammed my itunes to play in because THAT was the version that I fell in love with. It certainly isn't strange that I ended up cherishing Chilton's music much more than REM or The Replacements or Teenage Fanclub or Posies who gave the man/band much lip service and raised them from cult local favorites/one hit wonders into an international cult niche.

Where I'm from, there ain't much to be proud of... well there's quite a few post-modern literary icons, but an ugly, ugly history of bitterness and unfairness. But musically, there was ALWAYS an unending rich vein that ran throughout the hills between the delta and Memphis. I'd like to think that Alex's legacy although dwarfed by Elvis, Sun, Stax/Volt in the popular opinion, was always supported by the critical wisdom of losers, misfits and weirdos whom my taste in music always seemed to intersecet with.

My first time I ever performed music live was in my lol freshman year at a shitty San Diego bar, I closed with the three song suite from Sister Lovers: Nighttime-Blue Moon-Take Care. I'd never played in the dark with a single spotlight on me in a woodchair with a simple table next to it, a lukewarm double whiskey-coke as my self-confidence crutch. As I sang those songs to a half-full room full of mostly strangers, I heard the words new, differently than I did in my room playing along to the stereo on the carpeted floor. Heard like Kurtz's crystal bullet, for the first time.

Most people go as far as Big Star and maybe LIke Flies On Sherbert, but I was always drawn to the "lost era" of Chilton, his downward spiral in the Lower East Side fueling his genius... some glowing posts of mine form 7 years ago:

Alex Chilton S&D

and even a dumb RFI question posed:

RFI: Lyrics to Alex Chilton's "Tennis Bum"

And yeah I'll admit that's about as far as I go, but what I do have I have spent many, many hours digging deeper into the grooves of.

Okay I've gone on way too long. I'll admit I haven't even read a single post on this thread yet, I will say that I'm listening to Big Black Car right now and it's just about the heaviest thing in the world to me.

✌.✰|ʘ‿ʘ|✰.✌ (Steve Shasta), Thursday, 18 March 2010 05:39 (seven years ago) Permalink



― First and Last and Safeways ™ (jjjusten), Wednesday, March 17, 2010 10:26 PM (16 minutes ago)

Hanging out there for the evening.

Elvis Telecom, Thursday, 18 March 2010 05:45 (seven years ago) Permalink

I'm reminded of a really poignant part of David Reisman's "Listening to Popular Music" essay, where he talks about how teenagers, though they felt uncomfortable admitting it, most often listen to pop records when they're alone, and how singers often times worked as vicarious company, as a way to combat loneliness, for the pop fan.

Big Star is one of those bands that kept you company like that. With some bands and singers you don't so much just listen to them as you feel like you invite them into your home, your bedroom, or some other private place, to experience things with you, and thus their death impacts you like the loss of a friend. News of Chilton's death was like hearing that someone I used to hang out with all the time died.

Cunga, Thursday, 18 March 2010 05:45 (seven years ago) Permalink

still gutted. can't talk about this. Elvis I'm having a drink with you here in SF.

all yoga attacks are fire based (rogermexico.), Thursday, 18 March 2010 05:46 (seven years ago) Permalink

ach. what a thing to wake up to.

thank you, alex.


henri grenouille (Frogman Henry), Thursday, 18 March 2010 05:58 (seven years ago) Permalink

this little note really stuck with me when folks were talking about the box set

description of what's going ahn demo sounds great too, that song's pretty perfect. there are all these beautiful stories about the backstory (like a GREAT one i think i typed somewhere before about jim dickinson's crutches on nature boy), and one of them is a similar sort of thing as above about watch the sunrise; when big star were rock city but starting to hang out with alex, they ended up in the studio asking him if he had any songs or what he could do, and he sat and played it, and that's it, just with an overdubbed twelve string at the start. so great.

― corps of discovery (schlump), Friday, May 29, 2009 11:39 PM (9 months ago)

also this post

having interviewed Alex Chilton in 1981 and seen him play in various contexts since then--maybe I've seen him 30 times, in every situation from Panther Burns to Big Star reunion to half-assed Alan Vega thing in NYC to New Orleans gig in which he was part of a band doing Huey Smith and Coasters covers to solo shows--I do think he's been a misunderstood artist in almost every way possible. He, I believe, is interested or was interested or is intermittently interested in the kind of thing Big Star did (gloss on West Coast '60s pop and so forth). The thing that people who have never spent time in Memphis truly attempting to soak up what's unique about the town's musical heritage can never understand is the sheer range of the musical endeavor the town has essayed. In Chilton's case, many people who have a rather limited understanding of what music is and will always be, at least in North America, think that the "powerpop" aspect of Chilton supersedes the other stuff he has been interested in preserving, much like Snooks Eaglin or some other broad-ranging musician who has sensed that the intersection of pop and something deeper and older (Elmore James meets the Beatles). In other words, there's always been something else and Alex Chilton has realized that--it's the source of his power and the reason so many people whose minds stop at "September Gurls" or whatever can't get their heads around the other stuff. The blues, r&b, thwarted pop, and so forth. I mean Artful Dodger were a good band but who cares about 'em now, whereas the Big Star records are a bit deeper.

The rub is that Alex Chilton sorta realized the contrast between the pop expectations of the '60s and the other stuff, which was always there and which is in my opinion as important as the Beatles or the Byrds. Chilton is correct to say that "Radio City" is a matter of production values as much as it is music; incorrect, perhaps, or just perverse, to say that the songs aren't "about" anything. Chris Bell, on the other hand, was more a Beatles obsessive.

So that's why I like the folkie shit on the Big Star box that came out this year. Like "Country Morn," where the words are all about how Chris Bell can't understand the world. Bell, had he lived, would've turned into...what? Freedy Johnston? Hard to tell. Whereas Chilton understood, I think, the limits of pop and its ability to understand the world, and I think he realized his audience (who is in the main rather more stupid than he is, given the short-sighted nature of pop fans who, after all, have an interest in getting RID of their past as opposed to gaining strength from it, as Alex Chilton has at least attempted to do) has the somewhat idiotic idea that pop gets rid of history. Quite the opposite, right? Which is why 99% of everything written about Big Star sorta misses the point. At this late date in my life, I think "Third" is the one. A record that actually sums up what I've tried to grope toward in this post, about the way the past and present fight each other in the struggle to create pop, and the limits of pop. This is what Alex Chilton has tried to describe, and if he failed, so have we all.

― ebbjunior, Wednesday, January 6, 2010 7:25 PM (2 months ago) Bookmark

both from the main Big Star thread

sleeve, Thursday, 18 March 2010 06:00 (seven years ago) Permalink

Coincidentally, after hearing some song in the car today (wish I could recall it) I said something to myself along the lines of "God Bless every person who's ever been in a decent power pop band at any point in time -- they all deserve hugs."

The light-hearted fun that's inherent in the tone of the genre is one of the wonderful things about it, and a lot of that comes from Big Star.

Cunga, Thursday, 18 March 2010 06:15 (seven years ago) Permalink

good post Shasta

it's not like I need ILX to connect w/people who like Alex Chilton (all my closest friends are big fans) but it feels good to read this stuff tonight

dmr, Thursday, 18 March 2010 06:25 (seven years ago) Permalink

god Third is hard to fucking listen to. I'm up to Femme Fatale. bed soon.

dmr, Thursday, 18 March 2010 06:29 (seven years ago) Permalink

Working my way through the box set. "What's Going Ahn" demo on now. fucking hell...

Elvis Telecom, Thursday, 18 March 2010 06:39 (seven years ago) Permalink

Watching this was what finally made the tears come. Candid Big Star footage ca. 1972 set to "Thirteen." Fittingly, the last image of Chilton is him running around a corner and then a plane flying away. :(

Johnny Fever, Thursday, 18 March 2010 06:41 (seven years ago) Permalink

Johnny Fever, Thursday, 18 March 2010 06:41 (seven years ago) Permalink

kinda don't know what to say, waking up to this.

"I'm just doing what I like to do, what sounds melodious to my ears."


Most important performer of our generation: (Euler), Thursday, 18 March 2010 07:05 (seven years ago) Permalink

That 70s Show just came on and the opening credits killed me! RIP, AC.

kate78, Thursday, 18 March 2010 07:06 (seven years ago) Permalink

Aw fuck this.

Sleeve OTM about Memphis, I feel. Only spent a week there once, but I remember feeling a growing understanding of how much what he was could be understood in light of where he came from.


sonofstan, Thursday, 18 March 2010 07:13 (seven years ago) Permalink

Always thought he's live to a great age actually: unlike most pop singers, he'd have made a fine old guy: I could see him like Furry Lewis, swapping songs for whiskey or joints, telling tall tales, quietly reveling in being effortlessly cooler than all the young folks: and even, like Furry, somehow blagging a pension off the city of Memphis....

sonofstan, Thursday, 18 March 2010 07:38 (seven years ago) Permalink

I think I might be the first person on this thread to admit that I didn't know Alex Chilton until I heard This Mortal Coil in the early '80s (I was a huge 4AD stan back then), but after both hearing and being gobsmacked/heartthwacked by "Kangaroo", I at least dug back into Big Star's stuff to enough of a degree that I rejoiced that I'd found another very awesome band to keep me company when actual company wasn't actually working.

Really fucking sorry he's gone.

Lostandfound, Thursday, 18 March 2010 07:48 (seven years ago) Permalink

Damn. RIP.

StanM, Thursday, 18 March 2010 08:34 (seven years ago) Permalink

no words really. would just like to go back to bed and pretend today didn't happen.

Jamie_ATP, Thursday, 18 March 2010 08:35 (seven years ago) Permalink

Argh, I really wish I wasn't reading this at work. Now I can't go play Thirteen. Now I'm not allowed to cry.

RIP dude, you'll be missed terribly.

Ah fuck, this seems so fucking unreal.

Nathalie (stevienixed), Thursday, 18 March 2010 08:48 (seven years ago) Permalink

Gah, now they are playing it on the radio. Gotta run somewhere else and not cry.

Nathalie (stevienixed), Thursday, 18 March 2010 08:56 (seven years ago) Permalink

I'm so sad. So so sad. Listening to "Back Of A Car" as I write this and it sounds so youthful and desperate yet confident. Thank you for the gorgeous moments, Alex.

Bow Before Zeezrom!!! (Capitaine Jay Vee), Thursday, 18 March 2010 09:14 (seven years ago) Permalink

Oh man, can't believe it. RIP Alex. What a disaster.

The Oort Locker (Tom D.), Thursday, 18 March 2010 09:37 (seven years ago) Permalink

Listening to #1 Record now and wishing him well. Time to sleep.

Bow Before Zeezrom!!! (Capitaine Jay Vee), Thursday, 18 March 2010 09:39 (seven years ago) Permalink

I hope they play "I've Had It" at his funeral. Wanna listen to everything he ever did right now.

The Oort Locker (Tom D.), Thursday, 18 March 2010 09:46 (seven years ago) Permalink

shocking news first thing in the AM but steve shasta's fine fine post put it in perspective/RIP

the mighty the mighty BOHANNON (m coleman), Thursday, 18 March 2010 09:49 (seven years ago) Permalink

I was just listening to his recording of "Nature Boy," and the sad, happy-desperate laughter that enters his voice in the last verses just broke my heart.

MumblestheRevelator, Thursday, 18 March 2010 11:13 (seven years ago) Permalink

testifying to this guy and his guitar
so glad i got to see this guy - leading big star through an elgar cover, because they were playing in london, y'know - and bopping around with the box tops (picking up a bass for green onions), looking sixteen years old throughout.

will be blasting CLICHES asap. there will never be another alex.

we just have to get over it that's science (schlump), Thursday, 18 March 2010 11:22 (seven years ago) Permalink

This is so sad. I saw him just last year, fronting the Box Tops at an outdoor street fair. He was charming, engaged, ...happy. It was such a pleasure to see. I'm glad that's my last memory of him. That Box Tops reunion cd, "Tear Off," is a lovely little set of Memphis classics.

Thus Sang Freud, Thursday, 18 March 2010 11:25 (seven years ago) Permalink

i've only just heard about this - this is such sad news. RIP Alex. :(

Roz, Thursday, 18 March 2010 11:26 (seven years ago) Permalink

first saw him at Folk City (in a series of $3 shows booked by Ira Kaplan) circa '83, last w/ Box Tops in the plaza of the World Trade Center in the summer of 2001. RIP

Fusty Moralizer (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 18 March 2010 11:38 (seven years ago) Permalink

RIP. Some great albums with Big Star, and "September Gurls" will forever remain a true classic.

Tied Up In Geir (Geir Hongro), Thursday, 18 March 2010 12:15 (seven years ago) Permalink

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