When Big Star founder Alex Chilton died in 2010, he left at a time when his band and his music were being rediscovered by a whole new generation of fans, and his loss was deeply felt by many musicians who admired him and worked with him throughout the years.
Initially part of the 60s teen group The Box Tops, who had a string of number one hits from 1967 until their disbanding in 1970. Chilton went on to pursue a solo career until forming Big Star in 1971. Unfortunately, Big Star didn’t achieve anywhere near the success The Box Tops did, and after three albums, the band called it a day and Chilton continued on as a solo act and playing in a number of bands along the way.
However – as is often the case, when an artist or group is substantially ahead of their peers, the ones who discover them later are the ones who make the difference. And Big Star became a cult band, admired by the likes of REM, The Posies and so many others through the 1980s.
All of that newfound attention eventually brought about a reforming of Big Star in 1993. With former Posies members Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer, Big Star became a resurrected reality. Unfortunately, it was an on-again/off-again thing, as Chilton had also put back together The Box Tops and was recording new material with them.
At the time of his death on March 17th 2010, he was scheduled to play SXSW with Big Star, reunited for the gig on the 20th. But a sudden heart attack stopped all that and the concert became a tribute to the memory of a wildly talented and terribly underrated artist.
This 2012 concert continues as a tribute to Chilton, with drummer Jody Stephens, the only original member of Big Star, joining Stringfellow and Auer (who were in the reformed 1993 band), along with several guests.
If you aren’t familiar with the music of Alex Chilton or Big Star, this is a good sampler and a starting-off place to check out the catalog, which is still in print.
It’s an enjoyable 83 minutes. Turn it up.