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Alex Chilton

By Tony Hicks
Thursday, March 18th, 2010 at 4:18 pm in Uncategorized.

Paul Westerberg is probably drinking more than usual tonight.

Singer/songwriter/all around rocker Alex Chilton died today at the age of 59. He was having heart problems and died in a New Orleans emergency room.

 

Chilton is best known for the Box Tops’ 60s hit “The Letter” (which my band played in my very first show after I moved to L.A.). He was also known as the frontman for Memphis-based Big Star, a great power pop band from the 1970s that released three records that didn’t sell so well. One of their hits – “In The Street” was performed by Cheap Trick as the theme for “That 70s Show.”

Like so many people, I became aware of Alex Chilton from (in my mind) one of the greatest power-pop songs ever written, the Replacements’ “Alex Chilton” – Paul Westerberg’s ode to one of his heroes. Westerberg wrote that if Chilton died in Memphis, that’d be cool.

He didn’t, but I suppose New Orleans is a close second. 

I got to see the re-constituted Big Star at the Fillmore a few years ago (they were great) and have friends who met Chilton and had nothing but wonderful things to say about him. Big Star was supposed to play South by Southwest in Austin this weekend, which would’ve been one of the hottest tickets of the whole festival, as Big Star has attained cult status and, funny enough, is probably more popular now than in the ’70s.

That he was only 59 is terribly sad. But perhaps Westerberg will be inspired to write another great song in his honor.

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