Alex Chilton RIP 2010

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I'm not crazy about Westerberg's solo on that song – my only quibble.

The Magnificent Colin Firth (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 18 March 2010 15:22 (seven years ago) Permalink

many xposts... found the interview where he refers to it as "That $70 Show"

sofatruck, Thursday, 18 March 2010 15:24 (seven years ago) Permalink

Another fan of the story of the young Steve Shasta hearing the group named after a Memphis grocery store whilst in another Memphis-based grocery store.

Ole Rastaquouère (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 18 March 2010 15:25 (seven years ago) Permalink

OK, I am a slow responder. I heard about this last night but it is just starting to sink in.

Ole Rastaquouère (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 18 March 2010 15:43 (seven years ago) Permalink

all the stories on this thread are making me tear up a bit

famous for hating everything (Shakey Mo Collier), Thursday, 18 March 2010 15:59 (seven years ago) Permalink

Brett Eugene Ralph, author, louisville punk, member of Fading Out and Rising Shotgun on Chilton:

"To ease the ache, I'll tell a story about the first time I saw Alex Chilton play. It was in Louisville, at Uncle Pleasant's, in the summer of 1988. I remember it being a banner night for music in Louisville; besides Chilton, Dwight Yoakam was playing on the Belvedere and Die Kreuzen was over at Tewligan's.

Chilton was backed by an unspectacular rhythjm section. The show was about half fantastically inspired and half workmanlike boogie chestnuts (I remember Chilton's take on "Young Blood" being among the highlights). About forty minutes into the set, they went into "The Letter." During the second verse, someone bumped into Chilton's microphone, and it popped him in the mouth. "I'm not losing any teeth over you fuckers," Chilton hissed and stalked off the stage. Everybody, including Chilton's band mates, looked at one another in disbelief.

Twenty minutes went by. Maybe a half hour. I asked the bass player if he thought they'd play anymore. "I don't know, man," he said. "Alex sounded pretty pissed off." Chilton sat at the bar with not another person in the packed bar within fifteen feet of him.

After 45 minutes, Chilton made his way back to the stage. Seemingly, he'd gotten over it. "Sorry about that," he said, "but when you get to be my age, you get pretty attached to your teeth." He glanced at the drummer. "We'll try to pick up where we left off . . ."

And then, so help me God, he counted off and they went into "The Letter" in the middle of the second verse--right where they'd stopped nearly an hour ago.

Bravo, Mr. Chilton. Bravo."

snorgfaced germans (M@tt He1ges0n), Thursday, 18 March 2010 16:04 (seven years ago) Permalink

this still hasnt sunk in yet

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 18 March 2010 16:06 (seven years ago) Permalink

no idea why this is making me feel as bad as it is, but then again I've never really been able to understand mourning

puff puff post (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Thursday, 18 March 2010 16:21 (seven years ago) Permalink

loved this story quoted on the awl today -

Paul: My favorite tale is from Our Band Could Be Your Life, when he shut down Gibby Haynes's rampage through the Netherlands:

Moments later a man entered the dressing room and asked if he could borrow a guitar. “BORROW A GUITAR??!!! WELL, WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU???!!! [Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers] screamed, eyes flashing in delirious anticpation of forthcoming violence. But the man was totally unfazed.

“I’m Alex Chilton,” the man answered calmly.

Haynes was flabbergasted. After a long pause, he methodically opened the remaining guitar cases one by one and gestured at them as if to say, “Take anything you want.”

just sayin, Thursday, 18 March 2010 16:34 (seven years ago) Permalink

"i'm alex chilton"

^^wow <3

snorgfaced germans (M@tt He1ges0n), Thursday, 18 March 2010 16:38 (seven years ago) Permalink

that is just awesome.

Still can't really believe it. Just seems like someone will say, "nah, just kidding"
Emailed my dad the news cause he was a big fan of the Box Tops. "That's life" he replied.

Nathalie (stevienixed), Thursday, 18 March 2010 16:56 (seven years ago) Permalink

OK, another story. I was at CBGB, where Chilton was playing in his trio w/ Chris Stamey. Before his set he was crouched down on the stage, making adjustments to his amp. Assuming he was a roadie, someone asked him "Is this guy Alex Chilton any good?" Chilton gave him a smile and said (paraphrasing, forgive me, this was a long time ago), "Yeah, y'know, he's alright. Sometimes he drinks too much, but he's usually pretty good." And went back to his adjustments.

Thus Sang Freud, Thursday, 18 March 2010 16:57 (seven years ago) Permalink

^^^ Great story! I did that once (mistook a band's bass player for a roadie and then started criticizing the band!)

Pierced nose! Performs improv! (Dan Peterson), Thursday, 18 March 2010 17:02 (seven years ago) Permalink

Here's a toast to the greatest high school memory maker I've ever known.

Captain Ahab, Thursday, 18 March 2010 17:04 (seven years ago) Permalink

holy shit! alex made congress:

zingzing, Thursday, 18 March 2010 17:38 (seven years ago) Permalink

RIP a lot

69, Thursday, 18 March 2010 17:39 (seven years ago) Permalink

holy s--t want to vote for rep. steve cohen ASAP.

Daniel, Esq., Thursday, 18 March 2010 17:43 (seven years ago) Permalink

used to have this one as 12" ep, great track called 'wild kingdom' on the second side:

Ward Fowler, Thursday, 18 March 2010 17:49 (seven years ago) Permalink

he sorry that was meant for the chilton vinyl thread

Ward Fowler, Thursday, 18 March 2010 17:50 (seven years ago) Permalink

And the Chilton tribute is already featured on the page.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 18 March 2010 17:51 (seven years ago) Permalink


The Oort Locker (Tom D.), Thursday, 18 March 2010 17:55 (seven years ago) Permalink

"That's life" he replied.

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

kenan, Thursday, 18 March 2010 17:55 (seven years ago) Permalink

rough year for memphis rockers of a certain ilk. dickinson, reatard, chilton. so sad.

Brio, Thursday, 18 March 2010 17:58 (seven years ago) Permalink

steven cohen is one of my favorite reps in all of the house, even before the chilton thing, what a bro

max, Thursday, 18 March 2010 17:58 (seven years ago) Permalink

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

wkiw steven cohen

snorgfaced germans (M@tt He1ges0n), Thursday, 18 March 2010 18:40 (seven years ago) Permalink

Wow, that was a really moving speech from Rep. Cohen. Pretty choked up right now.

Moodles, Thursday, 18 March 2010 18:43 (seven years ago) Permalink

I have this Jon Spencer Blues Explosion poster up in my house, and every day I look up at it, see Alex Chilton's name as the opener and think, jeez, I can't remember a minute of his set. 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!). Then I think back to seeing Big Star several years ago, and he and the band killed it. He had such an uneasy relationship with that group and those songs - and maybe the world as a whole - but my world has certainly been better with them in it. He may be gone now, but at least I still have the songs. If there's one bright spot to the band staying relatively under the radar for so long, it's that Big Star remains not some ubiquitous presence or fashionable affectation but a cherished talisman to be passed on and discovered.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 18 March 2010 18:44 (seven years ago) Permalink

Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie, who describes him as "a genius of rock 'n' roll", joins Teenage Fanclub singer Norman Blake to outline the impact Chilton had.

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

(xpost to zingzing)

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

everytime that bobby gillespie dude says something i just wanna be like "no one gives a fuck about primal scream"

snorgfaced germans (M@tt He1ges0n), Thursday, 18 March 2010 19:01 (seven years ago) Permalink

listening to "she's a mover" now...his rhythm playing on this is so weird and awesome

snorgfaced germans (M@tt He1ges0n), Thursday, 18 March 2010 19:01 (seven years ago) Permalink

She's a mover is one of my favorites

Mr. Que, Thursday, 18 March 2010 19:02 (seven years ago) Permalink

forgot how beautiful and epic and psych "daisy glaze" is, haven't listened to radio city in a while

snorgfaced germans (M@tt He1ges0n), Thursday, 18 March 2010 19:03 (seven years ago) Permalink

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

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