Word is out today that Alex Chilton, the former lead singer of the Box Tops, and one of the guiding forces behind the awesome Big Star has passed away.
Chilton first became prominent as the voice behind “The Letter,” the great Box Tops song from 1967 with which Joe Cocker later had a big hit. Despite the hits with the Box Tops (“The Letter,” “Cry Like A Baby,” “Neon Rainbow”), it was his tenure in Big Star, and the pop perfection that they released, that immortalized Chilton. Despite the fact that Big Star never became even moderately well-known, their influence as one of the original, seminal power pop bands of the 1970s stretches wide and far. Much like the Velvet Underground, the reverberations created by Big Star are still being heard today. R.E.M. and Wilco owe a huge debt to Big Star, and Chilton acolytes run the gamut from their #1 fanboy Paul Westerberg (who wrote the great Replacements song “Alex Chilton“) to Brendan Benson. In fact, the entire school of power pop owes a debt of thanks to Big Star.
Alex Chilton, dead at 59. RIP