Your Fave Band's Fave Band Was Probably Big Star

Alex Chilton: Not a commercial success, but hugely influential

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 18, 2010 1:47 PM CDT

(Newser) – Critics mourn Alex Chilton, who might not even have been on your radar before his death yesterday. But the Big Star frontman—whose songs have been covered by everyone from Elliott Smith to Wilco—will be now, and for good reason. Some takes on his legacy:

  • Chilton "pretty much influenced everything that influenced the music you listen to now," writes blogger Balk on the Awl. So listen up.

  • The musician's "limited commercial success offers no indication as to his influence on rock," writes Clark Collis in Entertainment Weekly. His "importance lay not with his chart placings, but in the place his music found in the record collections of subsequent generations of stars."
  • Steve Kandell didn't get turned on to Chilton until he heard the Replacements "1987 love letter," he writes in Spin. "What I learned then is what wiser people before me held like a secret and what many others may just be learning this morning." And that's that Chilton was "brilliant" and "immeasurably influential."
  • "Brian Eno is credited with the observation that just 5,000 people bought a Velvet Underground album, but every one of them started a band," Nick Lusk writes on CNN. "The same could easily be said about Big Star, and with much greater validity."

Alex Chilton in the 60s.
Alex Chilton in the 60s.   (YouTube)
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