Sunday, April 18, 2010

Alex Chilton

Children by the million sing for Alex Chilton when he comes 'round

Like so many music fans, I was saddened by Alex Chilton's passing on St Patty's Day 2010. I personally found out about it on twitter and tried in vein to debunk it as a mistake or hoax. I finally believed it when I found the story on I don't think I can add much to what's been written about him, so I'll include some of the articles that I found most interesting. 

"He stepped up to the mike and clicked his heels four times. That was it. I don’t know who my fragile busted up little psyche’s influences were at the time; Neil Young, Joe Strummer, David Bowie, Tom Verlaine? They all went out the window at that moment; floated up into the ether and stayed put. Alex has remained. I have forgotten many heroes along the way. Put on “Bangkok” and you’ll begin to understand why this man, this rock and roll song and dance man, can’t be tossed aside. Ever."

Chuck Prophet did a blazing cover of Alex's "Bangkok" at his recent Lizard Lounge show and also performed at the SXSW Big Star tribute show. [Review from] 

"Yeah, December boys got it bad, as “September Gurls” notes. The great Alex Chilton is gone — folk troubadour, blues shouter, master singer, songwriter and guitarist. Someone should write a tune about him. Then again, nah, that would be impossible. Or just plain stupid."

Paul Westerberg wrote the song "Alex Chilton", as the lead singer of The Replacements.

NPR: "Big Star: The Unluckiest Band In America"

"The statement, usually ascribed to Peter Buck of REM, that only a thousand people bought the Velvet Underground's albums in the 1960s — but every one of them started a band — also holds true for a Southern band whose albums in the 1970s sold even fewer copies, but whose posthumous reputation is just as large."

Peter Buck played in the Big Star tribute show at SXSW

"Perhaps fittingly, Chilton’s final performance was not the much-anticipated Big Star showcase at South by Southwest, but a hastily organized Jan. 24 benefit for Doctors Without Borders at the Big Top, the funky art gallery/performance space on Clio Street. Chilton declined to rehearse or even discuss the set list in advance.

“He said, ‘We’ll wing it,’” recalled Anthony Donado, the benefit’s organizer. “He liked music on the edge.”"

Keith Spera is a music writer in New Orleans, where Alex Chilton lived

Known as a musician's musician, his songs have been covered by many over the years and will certainly be covered by many more in the future. Here are some covers that you can listen to online.
Some great tributes that I heard myself included Rhett Miller covering "September Gurls" (Regattabar 27-Mar-2010) and Wilco covering "In the Street" (CCANH 7-Apr-2010). 

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