Thursday, March 18, 2010

RIP: Alex Chilton

As we've probably all heard by now, Alex Chilton died yesterday, very unexpectedly, in a Texas emergency room.

He was down there to play SXSW.

You know, I started this post, but I find I have no words. For we who love this genre, Big Star was a waystation between the Beatles and Shoes, and the loss is incalculable.

Children by the millions grieve for Alex Chilton. He was only 59

UPDATE: The United States Congress weighs in.


steve simels said...

I saw Big Star at Max's Kansas City right after "Radio City" came out.
Alex's guitar chimed like the gates of Heaven. They were brilliant.

Gardner Campbell said...

Steve, as John Lennon once said, "you've got a lucky face." You know, your review of "Radio City" was the first time I ever heard of Big Star or Alex Chilton. As so often happened in those days (and since), I was hooked on the music because of your words, long before I heard a note of what you were describing.

Later that year, a buddy of mine from Richmond came to see me and brought along a cut-out copy of "Radio City." He played me "September Gurls," and I felt as if the breath had been knocked out of me--it was that beautiful, with so much yearning and joy that I could hardly stand how intensely it made me feel. Then he played "Way Out West" and the marvels continued. Then he said, "this one's a little different--you may not like it as much," and played "O My Soul." But of course he was wrong: I loved that one too.

Now, thirty-five years later, with the wonderful "Keep An Eye On The Sky" box set in front of me, I love the music more than ever. So thanks, Steve, for bringing that band into my life.

And thanks, Alex, for being my difficult, essential hero all these years.

sdf said...

Molly, I got very sad when I saw the post over at Eschaton about Alex Chilton passing. I of course was one of those who discovered Big Star by way of the Replacements and was instantly hooked. Have "Alex Chilton" playing on repeated loop this morning.

Really very sad. RIP.

Children by the millions indeed.

-- Stu

steve simels said...


Thanks for the kind words. To be honest, though, I'd actually forgotten I ever reviewed Radio City.

Otto Pärt said...

I've been puzzled for years about why I never even knew about Big Star back in the day. Was it just me? Or was it because they got zero radio play? What a damn shame.

TMink said...

I have a lot of Alex Chilton on my hard drive and I have been working toward having it all. From the wonderful Big Star material to the sometimes painful third album, from High Priest to Cliche, his music always moved me.

Just when I though I had him figured out, when I knew he was going to record as the cynical, smart ass who has seen it all three times, he would sing a Christmas hymn with deep conviction. Or record standards with just him and his guitar. Then he would release some amazingly sloppy set with a pick up band. To say that his recorded work is uneven does injustice to the word uneven. But if you can love that too, you need all his releases.

He has felt like a special performer, if for nothing else than he was so unknown. His death is really quite a loss, it hurts when I think about it.


virgotex said...

Minor detail in the larger scope, but Chilton died in NOLA, where he'd been living.

NYMary said...

Of course you're right, virgotex. He was on his way to Texas. They did a nice memorial panel today, and tonight's show is going to be spectacular.

Otto Pärt said...

Op-ed by Westerberg in the NY Times. Nice.