Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Big Star's big star dead at 59

Alex Chilton's dark night of the soul.

The big star of my all-time favorite 70s band is dead.

Alex Chilton, the lead singer of Big Star, has passed away at age 59 of a heart attack.

Despite its name, Big Star is most famous for not being famous, though thanks to That 70s Show, everyone knows the band's "In the Street," for which Chilton was paid the ironic sum of $70 in royalties each time the show aired.

Give yourself bonus points for resisting the urge to yell "Hello Wisconsin!"

I'm partial to "September Gurls" - its plucky guitar and bittersweet lyrics make it one of the rare songs that has the power to make you happy and depressed at the same time:

I saw Big Star play in New York in 2004 at Little Steven's Underground Garage Festival and loved 'em, though the indifferent, jaded New Yorkers paid them little heed. I missed it, but Alex Chilton also played Club Regent in Winnipeg in 2001 with his first band, the Box Tops.

Their albums, #1 Record (which never actually got close to number one), Radio City, and Third/Sister Lovers are required listening, and no iPod can live and breathe without "Nightime," "The Ballad of El Goodo," "Thank You Friends," "In the Street," Thirteen," "Daisy Glaze," "When My Baby's Beside Me," "My Life is Right," "Back of a Car," "Dony," and "September Gurls."

Bands as diverse as REM, Cheap Trick, Wilco, Teenage Fanclub, and the Replacements owe them their careers; the Replacements' tribute song, "Alex Chilton" is a particularly poignant tribute to their hero:
“Children by the million, Sing for Alex Chilton/
When he comes ’round, they sing, ‘I’m in love/
What’s that song?/
I’m in love with that song.’”

Thank you, friend, for making this all so probable!


  1. A big loss for music.

    I will listen to some Box Tops, Big Star and Replacements tunes today in Alex Chilton's honour.

  2. Thanks for the reminder about the Box Tops show at the casino.

    I was at that one!


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