Friday, March 19, 2010

ALEX CHILTON was 59: tops in BOX TOPS and BIG STAR star

Alex Chilton was on tour, ready to play a gig in Austin, Texas when he was hospitalized in New Orleans. His death was a shock to both family and fans.

At 16, Chilton had a hit, singing "The Letter" while fronting the Box Tops. The group managed to hold together through the late 60's. Two years later, 1972, Chilton was attaining acclaim via Big Star ("September Gurls,” “Thirteen,” and "Life is White" among the best remembered songs). Another tune, "In the Street," ended up as the theme for "That 70's Show." Paul Westerberg sang "I never travel far without a little Big Star," and indeed, Chilton's achievements are almost too big for this blog of less renown.

Except...between his Box Tops and Big Star successes, Chilton put out some pretty quirky material, and after his Big Star years, he once again created some challenging and less commercial music, hanging out with the CBGB's punk crowd, and working with The Cramps. He ended the 70's by pressing 500 copies of "Like Flies on Sherbert," which was certainly ahead of its time. That's your download below.

Chilton remained elusive in the 80's, doing everything from solo albums to the dishes, literally, when he decided to try menial work down in New Orleans. He continued his eclectic interests in the 90's with an acoustic jazz album of standards, but kept the rent money coming in by turning up at gigs with re-united versions of both The Box Tops and Big Star, and with Big Star he even created a new album in 2005.


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