Alex Chilton RIP 2010

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count how many times Bobby mentions himself and his wretched band in that piece.


Mark G, Thursday, 18 March 2010 19:03 (seven years ago) Permalink

I like some Primal Scream albums. I don't listen to Bobby Gillespie tho, only Marcello's impression of Bobby Gillespie

famous for hating everything (Shakey Mo Collier), Thursday, 18 March 2010 19:05 (seven years ago) Permalink

Got a call at 10:15 pm central last night with the news, just after I'd started my radio shift. We were doing St Patrick's Day right on the radio, tons of Thin Lizzy, Them and Van Morrison, Taste and Rory Gallagher, songs with Green in the title, some Irish punk stuff, some traditional folk stuff from the incredible stacks at the station I volunteer for...Then THAT. Couldn't believe, hadn't even brought Keep an Eye on the Sky (which I bought last week, ferchrissake). Luckily, we have Radio City in the stacks. We ended up playing two songs from it last night and just made brief mention (I'd been planning this holiday show all week!). Feels wrong, tho.
Wish I could have just dropped everything and paid a proper tribute. There's always next week...and every other week after.

Trip Maker, Thursday, 18 March 2010 19:07 (seven years ago) Permalink

btw Hatch, really liked your "Ballad of El Goodo" last Sunday -- I was listening in the lounge at the time and didn't know it was you til later!

Fusty Moralizer (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 18 March 2010 19:10 (seven years ago) Permalink

sure bobby g is a berk but the fact is he and mcgee did as much as anybody in the uk to promote and enshrine chilton's reputation in the 1980s and beyond, dude has earned the right to blah abt him now

gratuitous namedrop warning - epic soundtracks, who was prob the biggest big star fan i ever knew, once told me that he thought there were at least five or six great songs on GIVE OUT BUT DON'T GIVE UP, and he actually owned the songbook for that alb (admittedly cos i sold it to him v. cheaply but, yknow) - have been thinking abt epic quite a lot since chilton joined him out there

Ward Fowler, Thursday, 18 March 2010 19:12 (seven years ago) Permalink

fuck, been thinking about his own stuff today so much it just hit me how much I love the cramps and gories stuff he produced.

Brio, Thursday, 18 March 2010 19:29 (seven years ago) Permalink

Haven't been this bummed out about a music hero dying since Grant McLennan. That same shocking suddenness and that same regret about not keeping up with their later careers, when they were still here with us.

Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Farting in Space (NickB), Thursday, 18 March 2010 19:34 (seven years ago) Permalink

sure bobby g is a berk but the fact is he and mcgee did as much as anybody in the uk to promote and enshrine chilton's reputation in the 1980s and beyond, dude has earned the right to blah abt him now

I don't know...

I saw Alex in '85 in a packed Mean Fiddler, and Live in London was recorded in a not empty Dingwalls in 1980: people did know who he was, long before Alan McGee was around to tell us.

sonofstan, Thursday, 18 March 2010 19:44 (seven years ago) Permalink

Several late nights spent at Metro watching this dood just throw down. Some of my latest rock 'n' roll nights indeed. Spilling out onto the streets at 3:30 a.m. just filled with an appreciation for his craft. That big Gibson hollow-body. Great times. RIP, Alex.

bounty of eternal fields (eternal_fields), Thursday, 18 March 2010 19:49 (seven years ago) Permalink

Then I think back to another time I saw him, and all I can remember was someone requesting a Big Star song only to get Chilton covering Michael Jackson (twice, if memory serves!).

This was at Schuba's . . . man, what a fantastic show. He played "Rock With You" and I cannot remember the other right now. Great live shows from this guy.

bounty of eternal fields (eternal_fields), Thursday, 18 March 2010 19:53 (seven years ago) Permalink

Steve Wynn's cool story

3.18.10: New York City

This is the short version. The longer version has been told and will be told again, I'm sure, in greater detail and with greater poetic dexterity.

When I was 20 years old I was so moved by the Big Star 3rd album that I found it absolutely necessary to jump on a Greyhound bus to Memphis merely to soak up the environment and maybe meet the man who could make such beautiful, vulnerable, transparent, honest music.

I not only experienced the city but also was welcomed by Alex Chilton himself. I spent a full week that summer in 1981, buying beers and smokes for Alex, talking about love and art and philosophy and life-everything but his actual music, as it turns out-over many late Memphis nights. We heard that week that Jerry Lee Lewis was on his deathbed in a Memphis hospital and parked across the street, drinking beer and toasting his health.

30 years later Jerry Lee is still here and now Alex is gone.

That night Alex invited me back to his parents place where he was living at the time. I took in the gold records for "The Letter" and "Cry Like a Baby" as I walked in. So what-I was a fan. And he made me some very tasty grits for breakfast the next morning

Since then, I encountered Alex here and there. We played a festival together in Norway in 2007. The next day Linda and I met up with him at the Oslo airport and helped him find his gate to Paris. He wanted to talk about our birth dates, astrological signs, compatibility and that curiosity almost made him miss his plane.

Last year I saw Big Star play in Brooklyn. Alex and I talked for a while after the show. We exchanged phone numbers and I was looking forward to seeing him when we were in New Orleans for Jazz Fest next month. My hero had become my pal and that made me very happy.

In a very sad month when I have lost one of my oldest and best friends (Mary Herczog) and am still taking in the horrible suicide of my pal Mark Linkous, I find myself shattered by the untimely death of a man I didn't know all that well, a man I wish I had had the chance to know a little bit better. I wish I could have seen Alex play a show when he was 90 years old (I guess I would have been approaching 80 if my math is right). He was a guy who had so much curiosity, enthusiasm and talent. His passing is a great loss for his fans, for music and for people like me who drew so much inspiration and solace from the beauty and love that he chose to make so public to anyone who cared to look within

As Alex said...take care

Steve Wynn

Elvis Telecom, Thursday, 18 March 2010 20:22 (seven years ago) Permalink

News of Alex Chilton's death came as a horrible shock to Andy Hummel, Chilton's friend and former Big Star bassist profiled in the Dallas Observer after the release of the Rhino box set Keep An Eye On The Sky.

Hummel and Big Star's Jody Stephens were scheduled to speak and perform Saturday at 12:30 p.m. on the SXSW panel "I Never Travel Far Without A Little Big Star," about the legacy of one of America's most influential cult bands. There was also the possibility that he would play a few songs with Big Star at its 12:30 a.m. Saturday-night set at Antone's, which would have been the first time for him to play with the band since parting ways in 1974.

Chilton died yesterday of a suspected heart attack in a New Orleans hospital, after collapsing while mowing his lawn.

"We're all still in shock about the whole thing," Hummel says. "It was completely unexpected."

Obviously, Hummel says, the death will significantly change the nature of the panel discussion. But he still plans to participate and pay tribute to one of his dear friends and someone he considers a musical genius.

"We're just trying to pull together what all that's going to look like now, without Alex," he says.

The panel would have been a 90-minute discussion of the legacy of Big Star, focusing on the years from the release of Third/Sister Lovers to the present, as a continuation of a previous SXSW panel that focused on the beginning years of the band. Stephens and Hummel would also give an acoustic performance.

Now, Hummel says, Stephens is reaching out to Cheap Trick singer Robin Zander and R.E.M.'s Mike Mills to join Big Star's surviving members at the Antone's show. (Members of R.E.M. have long championed Big Star, and Cheap Trick's cover of "In The Streets" was the theme song for That '70s Show.)

"I don't know how successful he's going to be trying to pull all that together in this short a period of time, but he's trying to get something together," Hummel says. "If nothing else, the panel is still on. ... I think he's having trouble dealing with this, as we all are. So he's trying to focus in on what he needs to do, as opposed to just sitting around and getting too immersed in the tragedy of the situation."

Hummel said he last spoke to Chilton last summer on a visit to New Orleans, where Chilton showed them areas of the city that were affected by Hurricane Katrina--and had spirited political discussions with Hummel's wife.

"My wife and I made what used to be our standard annual trip to New Orleans, and spent most of the time hanging around with Alex," he says. "He was a real fan of New Orleans, and was like a walking encyclopedia of New Orleans, so it was a lot of fun to hang with him when you went there. This was our first time since Katrina."

Along with remembering Chilton as a friend, Hummel champions his artistic brilliance.

"I hope people really understand and appreciate what a brilliant musician the guy was," he says. "He should be remembered in that way. He was really a creative genius, always testing the limits."

velko, Thursday, 18 March 2010 20:24 (seven years ago) Permalink

and had spirited political discussions with Hummel's wife

Fly on the wall wishes here, I admit.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 18 March 2010 20:34 (seven years ago) Permalink

God yeah....I bet the journal he talked about in that Rolling Stone piece up yonder was a put on, but imagine if it wasn't?

sonofstan, Thursday, 18 March 2010 20:38 (seven years ago) Permalink

this guy was great

:3 (cankles), Thursday, 18 March 2010 20:47 (seven years ago) Permalink

for me to poop on

:3 (cankles), Thursday, 18 March 2010 20:47 (seven years ago) Permalink

oh yay, cankles

― you gone float up with it (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Wednesday, January 13, 2010 6:51 PM (2 months ago)

sleeve, Thursday, 18 March 2010 20:50 (seven years ago) Permalink

Pretty shocking, 59 is way, way too young.

dead flower :( (Pashmina), Thursday, 18 March 2010 21:13 (seven years ago) Permalink

My wife and I made what used to be our standard annual trip to New Orleans, and spent most of the time hanging around with Alex," he says. "He was a real fan of New Orleans, and was like a walking encyclopedia of New Orleans, so it was a lot of fun to hang with him when you went there. This was our first time since Katrina."

I would have paid good money for this tour.

Jake Brown, Thursday, 18 March 2010 21:17 (seven years ago) Permalink

I like the Steve Wynn story. He's one of my favourite musicians (I interviewed). Awesome AWESOME guy.

"That's life" he replied.

I like this. It's not as dismissive at it sounds at first.

My dad has the best approach about life (and its end, death).

Anyway, I recommended my friend - who never EVER listens to music - some Big Star. She was on itunes for the first time and wanted to buy some music. She said she cldnt tell much from the 20 secs of Thirteen.
I told my husband that I still remember running home with #1/Radio City in my hands being so fucking excited.

Anyway, gotta shed another tear.

Nathalie (stevienixed), Thursday, 18 March 2010 21:38 (seven years ago) Permalink

For years, his rep as an ornery cuss preceded him, it seems.

As per, it's now we discover he was a nice guy, when not pushed where he didn't wat to be.

(The mic/teeth story for instance)

It seems churlish to say his music didn't resonate bigtime with me. I'll try again with that 'best of', so don't mind me.

Mark G, Thursday, 18 March 2010 21:51 (seven years ago) Permalink

Found out about this in the Newspaper an hour or so ago.

RIP you magnificent bastard.

Roomful of Moogs (C. Grisso/McCain), Thursday, 18 March 2010 21:57 (seven years ago) Permalink

this is starting to sink in. fucking shit. dude didn't look remotely unhealthy just like six months ago. but you know, that's life. or death.

by another name (amateurist), Thursday, 18 March 2010 22:08 (seven years ago) Permalink

The NPR obit has been amended to say he was cutting his lawn when he dropped to the ground. What a comfortingly domestic way to go.

Johnny Fever, Thursday, 18 March 2010 22:17 (seven years ago) Permalink

Yeah, saw that a little while ago. I don't want to die mowing my lawn because I fucking hate lawns and having to mow them, but dying in my tracks while out working in my vegetable garden would be the best way to go, I think.

Religious Embolism (WmC), Thursday, 18 March 2010 22:20 (seven years ago) Permalink

The NPR obit has been amended to say he was cutting his lawn when he dropped to the ground.

by another name (amateurist), Thursday, 18 March 2010 22:23 (seven years ago) Permalink

pretty rad old interview that frequent mentions of astrology upthread reminded me of. seeing him with the box tops last year he just seemed so happy, bopping about, and iirc in the interview above he's talking about earning enough money to have the next six months worked out, then starting again. seemed to have a good life.

also i don't think we've brought up the time he socked charlie manson yet. lot of stories to get through.

we just have to get over it that's science (schlump), Thursday, 18 March 2010 22:37 (seven years ago) Permalink

"the time he socked charlie manson"


zingzing, Thursday, 18 March 2010 23:00 (seven years ago) Permalink

schwantz, Thursday, 18 March 2010 23:11 (seven years ago) Permalink

Via the Commercial Appeal, Bob Mehr's story a year and a half back about Chris Bell. It seems an appropriate complement now.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 18 March 2010 23:16 (seven years ago) Permalink

e socked charlie manson"


― zingzing, Thursday, March 18, 2010 11:00 PM (Yesterday) Bookmark

seem to recall some discussion in the big star thread; there isn't actually much more to the story, just a graf in the jovanovic book saying he did just that, not having placidly taken to the family's attempts to lure him in.

we just have to get over it that's science (schlump), Friday, 19 March 2010 00:37 (seven years ago) Permalink

Just listened to his demo for Big Black Car from the boxset- so so sad...I'm really at a loss for words.


ColinO, Friday, 19 March 2010 01:12 (seven years ago) Permalink

Been spinning his work all day long. I never got to see him perform, damnit. "High Priest" was my gateway in, still love that records and the associated EPs.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Friday, 19 March 2010 01:42 (seven years ago) Permalink

schlump, i can imagine he'd punch just about anyone, and manson was certainly someone worth hitting, i suppose... i guess he was visiting with dennis wilson? (dennis is someone i'd compare him to, in a lot of ways...)

i've been listening to this live album from berkeley in 1985. it's great. he's reconciled with his past to the point that he plays things straight, but he still whips it out on the guitar. i'm totally a lost-period chilton fan, but when he played it with reverence, he's just as compelling. i love this man.

it doesn't take his death to remind me that he's possibly the greatest rock star of all time, but it does reinforce it. sad, but happy.

zingzing, Friday, 19 March 2010 01:56 (seven years ago) Permalink

I have always been a Chris Bell guy but this is really sad. Spinning Third tonight.

skip, Friday, 19 March 2010 02:11 (seven years ago) Permalink


Crank it:

Cranking it.

probably a sock!! (╓abies), Friday, 19 March 2010 02:13 (seven years ago) Permalink

wish we had a joint so bad

RIP Alex Chilton

badg, Friday, 19 March 2010 03:02 (seven years ago) Permalink

Thoughts from Mr. Westerberg, plus Craig Finn and Patterson Hood:

Ned Raggett, Friday, 19 March 2010 03:12 (seven years ago) Permalink

oh man "Motel Blues", search that shit

totally cried today listening to "For You". the guy wrote like a good half dozen or more of the finest songs ever recorded in this sorry modern era.

sleeve, Friday, 19 March 2010 03:53 (seven years ago) Permalink

("For You" is by Jody Stephens)

Melvin van Osterlow, Jr. (res), Friday, 19 March 2010 04:02 (seven years ago) Permalink

goddamn, Mark Linkous and now Chilton, this is a rough month

― Whiney for No Apparent Reason (some dude), Thursday, March 18, 2010 1:46 AM (3 minutes ago)

this is exactly how i am feeling at the moment

― First and Last and Safeways ™ (jjjusten), Thursday, 18 March 2010 01:51 (Yesterday)


Freedom, Friday, 19 March 2010 04:12 (seven years ago) Permalink

haha sorry Jody (xp). Doesn't Chilton still sing it though?

sleeve, Friday, 19 March 2010 05:04 (seven years ago) Permalink

also "Motel Blues" is by Loudon Wainwright (although yeah Alex's version is great)

Stormy Davis, Friday, 19 March 2010 05:20 (seven years ago) Permalink

is "it came from memphis" worth getting? it seems that the copies from the ny public library aren't available for loan, which is kinda shitty. ("kinda" in that they're available for research and "performing arts," which i don't understand.. what that means...)

zingzing, Friday, 19 March 2010 05:28 (seven years ago) Permalink

by that, i mean will i learn anything significant about chilton or the memphis sound (particularly post-big star) with which he was associated?

zingzing, Friday, 19 March 2010 05:29 (seven years ago) Permalink

So many people have said the sorts of things that I would like to say about Alex. It really boils down to the intimacy. The one on one. I always felt like he was singing about what I was thinking and feeling.

I was 19 when I bought a Big Star compilation on Line Records. I think it was called Big Star's Greatest. Silver cover with a giant red star on it. This would have been around 1991. I wore that thing out. And then the Fantasy "#1 Record/Radio City" disc landed. Wow.

Big Star traced some connection between my intense love for the Beatles and the alternative rock I grew up on throughout the 80s. But more than that, Chilton, particularly from Radio City on, was singing about being the underdog. The awkward, uncomfortable young adult. All these girls come and go. I loved you, well nevermind. That stuff resonates when you're scared, insecure and looking for reasons why you feel that way.

But beyond that, there was that voice. So pure, so crystalline. It's like the best fucking voice in the world. And that guitar. That bell-tone out of phase Strat through a wound up Twin. Compressed - Byrdsian, Nowhere Man chime. It all conspired to create some Parsifalian ideal of the perfect pop frontman. At least in my mind.

Something about the way Alex combined his voice, lyrics and guitar really affected me in a way no other musician ever has. I really thank him for that. And that's why I'm really, truly gutted by his passing. It was said above, but I feel like I lost a friend. Someone I never met, but a friend none the less.

That's the true magic of music. That a song can reshape your entire outlook, a vocal can send shivers down your spine. A guitar figure can make you ecstatic. Alex Chilton managed to do that to me for nearly 20 years, and he'll do it for the rest of my life.

Brooker T Buckingham, Friday, 19 March 2010 05:50 (seven years ago) Permalink


by another name (amateurist), Friday, 19 March 2010 06:05 (seven years ago) Permalink

'It Came from Memphis' is good: not a whole lot of it is about Alex, really, but also, it all is. Really insightful on figures such a Dickinson, on John Fry and Manning, on the Memphis bohemia that nurtured Big Star.


sonofstan, Friday, 19 March 2010 06:06 (seven years ago) Permalink

so that craig finn thing:

But there are so many songs that just give me so much joy. ‘Thank You Friends’ is one of my favorites. As someone who spends a lot of time thinking about positivity in rock n’ roll, I think that’s about as positive a rock song as has ever been written.

lol what?

henri grenouille (Frogman Henry), Friday, 19 March 2010 08:15 (seven years ago) Permalink

sure bobby g is a berk but the fact is he and mcgee did as much as anybody in the uk to promote and enshrine chilton's reputation in the 1980s and beyond, dude has earned the right to blah abt him now

Oh yeah, what a surprise, two guys from Glasgow who liked Big Star and Alex Chilton, how novel of them. Give Bob his due though, at least he didn't claim to have been at the first Big Star rehearsals or to have played synth on the title track of "Like Flies On Sherbert". On the latter, had that blasting on the headphones as I walked (dawdled) to work this morning, walked into the building as the last notes of the title track (Bobby and all) died away...

The Oort Locker (Tom D.), Friday, 19 March 2010 10:13 (seven years ago) Permalink

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