Friday, March 19, 2010

alex chilton RIP

this fucking SUCKS ... vic chesnutt, mark linkous, and alex chilton in succession. unreal.

the sad thing about chilton is for most ears (and most big star fans), he's been dead since the early 70s. let's get real, big star broke up in 1974 (read, nixon). yeah, they got back together (in a bastard but GREAT form in '93), but unless you count that 70s show, they were invisible-- much as they were during their existence ... but i come not to bury alex, but to praise him.

i first caught word of him via peter buck and paul westerberg. i still remember the day i saw a used copy of the first big star album in plan 9 records and didn't buy it (needed money for an ill repute LP or something). i just facebooked my friend seth who had the first copy of radio city i ever saw ... but they weren't my entrance. big star's third was the ticket. this album changed my world. it's still my favorite record. you know, a testament to this band was this blog's top albums of the 70s list. all three big star albums made it.

once i got in to big star i started hitting the solo stuff, and i really dug it. there are some tough listens, but honestly. much of the work he did post-BS is just as viable. "like flies on sherbert" is amazing in its rawness, its rockness, and its sheer balls. "bachs bottom" in its audacity. "high priest" in the 'i bet you thought i'd try and recreate big star, but i'm gonna play a bunch of songs i like playing'. "a man called destruction" in its sheer fun. i probably saw alex 4 times solo before i saw him even play a big star song. the legendary cranky dude (who always knew how to put on a show) would just scoff at requests, wanting to play standards and the occasional solo tune. it was at this time i realized what and incredible musician he was. his guitar playing is some of the most expressive i've ever witnessed. i fucking loved those shows.

someone today mentioned everyone has a chilton story. mine was great. went to see him as a double bill with mazzy star. we got to the club incredibly early for some reason and witnessed hope sandoval onstage deeming the club unworthy and refusing to play. refunds were given, but as we walked out, chilton, the "codgy dude" was sitting next to the guy dispensing money asking "wanna be on the guest list?". we went back in and witnessed the loosest, incredible show ever. at one point, he and his standup bass player played a medley he called "buck to bach", where they did as advertised. buck owens and bass player grabbing a bow and playing bach as alex followed along.

i got to see the reformed big star a couple of times, most memorably at SXSW a few years back. they were fucking brilliant. in no small part to the posies guys who were born to fill those roles, and jody stephens was beaming. alex was playing along. he had no love for that, and i admired him for it. the "been there, done that" mentality.

but i think my favorite alex moment ever was at my first big star reunion show i saw at tramps in the 90s. in the middle of the show, he whips out an idea for a cover to the guys, a dorsey swing song from the 40s (i wanna say pennsylvania 54-609, but i'm gettin no love from google!). he starts playing it and is excited. the band doesn't reciprocate and he's perplexed.

text honors go to jack who sent ... "tell (your wife) i'm sorry it happened on her birthday"

ps- i have an amazing show, which i did not attend, from the old knitting factory. the power was out and he played acoustic, with candles lighting the place. i'm going to post that soon.

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