Channeling Chilton – A Night of Alex Chilton’s Music
In the last several months the band Big Star has lost two of its original members. The first being, frontman Alex Chilton died of a heart attack. Then, just a week ago, original bassist Andy Hummel succumbed to cancer.
On Wednesday, July 28 New York’s City Winery will host a night of remembrance and celebration as former members of the Box Tops, Big Star, plus Alex’s longtime friends and other collaborators come together to celebrate the man and the legend that is Alex Chilton.
Artists so far confirmed include:
Yo La Tengo, Marshall Crenshaw, Jody Stephens, Jon Auer, Doug Garrison, Rene Coman, Alan Vega, Jon Spencer (of the Blues Explosion), Fran Kowalski, Chris Stamey, Lesa Aldridge (Elizabeth Hoehn), Jay Proctor (of Jay & the Techniques), Bill Cunningham, Gary Talley, Terry Manning, Evan Dando, Jesse Malin, Danny Kroha (of The Gories) and Ronnie Spector. More artists are expected to attend.
Part of the evenings proceeds will benefit families and businesses affected by the Deepwater Horizon Disaster through the Gulf Restoration Network. More info here http://www.healthygulf.org/.
ABOUT ALEX CHILTON
He may not have been a household name but R.E.M.’s Peter Buck said of Chilton’s band Big Star “[they] served as a Rosetta Stone for a whole generation of musicians.” For more than 40 years, Alex Chilton was a musician and songwriter extraordinaire. Alex Chilton passed away suddenly on March 17, 2010 at the age of 59.
William Alexander Chilton’s life was always filled with music – his father Sidney Chilton was a jazz pianist who often hosted jam sessions in the family home. Born in Memphis, Tennessee, on December 28, 1950, Chilton became a teen vocalist in the 1960s for the blue-eyed soul group The Box Tops. At his first recording session he cut the vocal for their number one hit “The Letter,” followed by other hits including “Cry Like A Baby” and “Soul Deep.” He left the Box Tops to find greater musical freedom. At the time he was also asked to become the new vocalist for Blood Sweat & Tears but turned the job down.
In 1970 Chilton cut a solo album with Terry Manning at Ardent Studios in Memphis. The studio, run by John Fry, attracted a number of aspiring musicians and engineers. Chilton, now in his early 20s, joined up with Ardent players Chris Bell, Jody Stephens and Andy Hummell to form Big Star. Together they would record #1 Record, an album that had the critics hailing them as “the Beatles of the South,” but Bell left when the album sold poorly. They continued as a trio for the second album Radio City that included Chilton’s anthemic “September Gurls.” For several years, their next album, Big Star Third aka Sister Lovers was not even released.
Although Big Star did not have immediate fame, they developed a loyal and passionate underground following through the years. Artists including the Replacements, Matthew Sweet, Yo La Tengo, and Teenage Fanclub have paid homage to Chilton’s uncompromising sound and vision. His songs were covered by such diverse artists The Bangles, Wilco, and Jeff Buckley. In 2003, all three Big Star albums were placed on Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and in 2010, three songs were included on their 500 Greatest Songs issue. Richard Hell recently commented, “I love Big Star (they’re actually among the only three rock and roll bands that I never tire of, the other two being the Velvets and the Stones).”
In 1977, after his disillusioning bad luck with Big Star, Chilton moved to New York, where he found a place amongst the other alienated souls in the downtown punk scene, but drifted back to Memphis and eventually moved to New Orleans in the 1980s, where for a short time he stopped performing. He took odd jobs, was a dishwasher for a while, until interest from a newer generation put Chilton back in the spotlight. Always a lover of music, he produced recordings for a number of groups including early work by the Cramps, the Gories and the Replacements. He continued to perform into the present with his own musicians, and later with reformed bands as the Box Tops and Big Star.
In 2009, a four-disc retrospective of Big Star called “Keep an Eye on the Sky” was released by Rhino Records. Peter Buck said of his band, R.E.M., “we’ve sort of flirted with greatness, but we’ve yet to make a record as good as Revolver or Highway 61 Revisited or Exile on Main Street or Big Star’s Third.”
For more info go to: http://www.citywinery.com/events/93429