Legendary Memphis, Tennessee musician Alex Chilton has very unfortunately passed away at the age of 59 due to heart problems. Chilton first came on the music scene at the age of sixteen, fronting the teenage blue-eyed soul band The Box Tops and having pop chart hits with “The Letter”, “Cry Like A Baby” and “Soul Deep” all in the mid to late 60’s.
In the early 70’s he moved on to front the criminally unknown yet massively influential and increasingly appreciated power pop band Big Star. Big Star sold almost nothing during the life of the band despite an extremely commercial sound due to both record company mismanagement and having a sound not of their time. In the ensuing years they would become a cult phenomenon influencing many groups like the Replacements, Teenage Fanclub and the Bangles to name a few. Big Star’s last album release during the first tenure of the band was 1978’s “Third”- also known as “Sister Lovers”.
After the break-up of the band, Chilton went on to have a few solo albums and then reform Big Star (without key member Chris Bell who had passed away and had been out of the band since their first album release) for several reunion tours. Last year Rhino Records released an amazing box set called “Keep an Eye to the Sky”.
Please check out just a few of Chilton’s amazing songs below:
Tracks 1-3 from “Soul Deep: The Best of the Box Tops”
The Best of the Box Tops: Soul Deep Amazon
The Ballad of El Goodo (1972)
Tracks 4 & 5 from “#1 Record”
#1 Record Amazon
Tracks 6 & 7 from “Radio City”
Radio City Amazon
Tracks 7 & 8 from “Third/Sister Lovers”
“Third/Sister Lovers Amazon
“Keep An Eye On the Sky” Boxed Set Keep An Eye On The Sky Amazon
And check out this amazing tribute by The Replacements from their 1987 album “Pleased to Meet Me”
Alex Chilton Pleased to Meet Me Amazon
“If he died in Memphis, then that’d be cool….” (Regrettably, sounds like he passed in New Orleans). The term “underrated” is heinously overused today, but certainly applicable in Chilton’s case. How is it that he was a Big Star in name only?
Well said Mo and I couldn’t agree more. So many of his brilliant songs were should have been hits. I always find it interesting that he had such a low voice on this teenage hits with the Box Tops and a much higher voice later with Big Star. Very versatile dude!
I saw Wilco Tuesday night, and they closed the show with “Thank You Friends” in tribute to Chilton. It was a great moment to conclude an awesome show.
I just read that on Pitchfork Moe. That’s awesome. Wilco is an absolutely sick show. Nels Cline is an absolutely ridiculous guitarist. Glad you had fun!