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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Alex Chilton 1950 - 2010

The music world was rocked yesterday and today by the news of the sudden death of music giant, blue-eyed soul singer Alex Chilton. Memphis native Chilton was a songwriter, guitarist, singer and producer.
(box tops, alex chilton in center)
In the 1970's he was a member of the group, Big Star, but Chilton is most famous for being the lead singer of the 1960's group the Box Tops, who scored an #1 hit with "The Letter" and a #2 hit with "Cry Like a Baby". When "The Letter" charted in July 1967, Chilton was only 16. A Big Star song co-written and sung by Chilton, "In The Street", later became the theme song for the show, "That 70's Show".
In the late 1970's, Chilton spent time in New York City teaming with other musicians in various forms, and at one point played at the legendary rock venue, CBGB's, where he helped to pioneer the burgeoning punk sound in rock music. While in New York, he met the punk band The Cramps, and later took them back to Memphis where he produced the songs that would appear on their albums, "Gravest Hits" and "Songs the Lord Taught Us". (Click on "Music - Lux Interior" at the right of this page).

Even though Alex Chilton never again repeated the commercial success of his early hits with the Box Tops, Chilton's reputation as a rock singer and songwriter was solid. Countless bands, including R.E.M. have praised the group Big Star as a major influence. Jason Ankeny, music critic for Allmusic, identifies Big Star as "one of the most mythic and influential cult acts in all of rock & roll", whose "impact on subsequent generations of indie bands on both sides of the Atlantic is surpassed only by that of the Velvet Underground.
(the box tops in memphis, summer 1967)
Chilton died on March 17 in New Orleans of a suspected heart attack.

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