2010 is becoming a really awful year for musicians dying. Alex Chilton, front man of Big Star and record producer of the Cramps’ Songs The Lord Taught Us has died of heart complications, aged 59.
Though first making his name with the Box Tops, it was with Big Star, formed with the talented and tormented Chris Bell that Chilton really made his mark on history. In the first part of the seventies, they released three outsanding albums #1 Record, Radio City and best of all, Third/Sister Lovers. A major influence on R.E.M. and Teenage Fanclub, the band was covered by the likes of The Bangles (‘September Gurls’), Teenage Fanclub (‘Jesus Christ), Elliott Smith (‘Thirteen’) and This Mortal Coil (‘Kangaroo’ and ‘Holocaust’) [Bell’s ‘You and Your Sister’ and ‘I Am the Cosmos’ would also be covered by This Mortal Coil]. Though the band never had major commercial success in their lifetime, the wealth of artists lining up to pay tribute to them hopefully eased some of the pain. In 2000, NME writers voted Third/Sister Lovers the no.1 heartbreak album of all time, ahead of albums by the likes of Joy Division, Mogwai and The Cure.
After Big Star split, Bell sadly died in 1978 and Chilton continued with an erratic solo career. He went into production, most famously producing the songs that would make up the Cramps’ Gravest Hits EP and their debut Songs The Lord Taught Us. Rather like many cult artists in the pre-internet age, as with Daniel Johnston or Nick Drake, their profile grew by being covered and name-checked by other artists.
Rest In Peace, Good Sir. Seriously; check out the three Big Star albums. Your record collection is the poorer without them.
Big Star -‘Holocaust.’ mp3
Big Star -‘Kangaroo.’ mp3
This Mortal Coil -‘Holocaust.’ mp3
The Cramps -‘Human Fly.’ mp3