R.I.P.: Alex Chilton
Alex Chilton, the legendary singer-songwriter who fronted the Box Tops and Big Star, died yesterday in Memphis. He was 59.
Chilton was 16 when he wrote and recorded the Box Tops’ classic song “The Letter,” and continued to lead that band through later ’60s hits such as “Cry Like a Baby.” While that period in his work gave him the most renown, it was his pairing with Chris Bell in Big Star in the 1970s that produced his most influential work. Chilton and Big Star were the architects of modern power pop, and while their albums such as “#1 Record” and “Radio City” were not commercial successes by any means, Chilton and Bell’s influence was roughly analogous to the old statement about the Velvet Underground that is generally attributed to Brian Eno: few people heard Big Star, but most started bands that owed an immeasurable debt to them.
R.E.M.? Cheap Trick? Fountains of Wayne? Teenage Fanclub? They don’t exist without Big Star.
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