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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Alex Chilton

Born in Memphis Tennessee Alex Chilton -like many kids from Elvis`s home town -dreamt of little other than playing in a band.With his parents approval he formed his whilst still at college.After only a couple of gigs in front of friends,Alex had to go into the army.Things could have stopped right there had not his unique voice grabbed the attention of two producers....
They offered the young Alex the chance to record "the Letter"

Unless you`ve spent the last twenty four years in the jungle,you must have heard this song at least once and you might even remember the name of the group :The Box Tops "The Letter" was the biggest worldwide hit of 1967,topping the charts everywhere.Several other hits followed including "Cry like a Baby". "Neon Rainbow" and "Choo Choo Train"....
Alex was barely 17 years old.

Problems arose when Alex was no longer allowed to have his say about the choice of new material (Producers dominated then as now)Poor songs were followed by the enforced replacement of his friends by professional studio musicians.Being more involved in music than brief fame and quick money Alex decided to handle his own career his own way and play his own music.

In 1971 he formed BIG STAR with his friend Chris Bell.The first BIG STAR album "Radio City" was released to unanimous critical acclaim and the stage was set.Unfortunately,the second album "Big Star" whilst confirming the great talent of Alex and his friends,sold disappointingly and the groups label refused to release the bands third album.After many trials and tribulations it did eventually reach the shops by the end of the 70`s but it was too late for BIG STAR.Completely disillusioned Alex started to have severe difficulties and disappeared from the music scene for a while.

Finally resurfacing in the "Big Apple"Alex started playing in Max`s Kansas City,CBGB`s and all the other New York bars and clubs and recorded a wonderful but poorly distributed EP.The follow up single "Bangkok",one of the best singles of the 70`s gained him the recognition he deserved.A year later he released the enigmatic "Like Flies on Sherbet" and produced The Cramps first album "Songs The Lord Taught Us"

Alex spent the early 80`s producing & playing with Tav Falco`s Panther Burns before disappearing once again.Or so it seemed...In fact he moved to New Orleans in 1982 quit drinking and resolved to clean up his act,This process included time working as a dish washer and a lumberjack...There would be no more music until...

Summer 1985 saw the return of a rejuvenated completely healthy Alex Chilton and the release of his first record for five years "Feudalist Tarts" (a six track minin LP) revealed an Alex Chilton who had recovered the Jazz\Soul influences of his formative years.A great fusion of sophisticated soul and sublime horn arrangements.

In 1987 he released "High Priest" then in 1990 the great "Black List".In 94 Alex recorded one of his all time great LP`s "Cliches" where he covers standards like "My baby just cares","Time after Time" and "all of Me".

In 1994 he recorded along with Alan Vega & ben Vaughan the very brilliant "Cubist blues".

Now Alex is cult idol for bands like the DB`s, REM,The Violent Femmes.The Soft Boys,The Posies,Teeenage Fanclub.....Others like The Bangles,Replacements,this Mortal Coil & The Nomads are playing his tunes.

Alex Chilton is the rock equivalent of Dennis Hopper,not quite a household name but a legend to all who have come across him.His work with Big Star and numerous solo projects have earned him universal respect in the rock world.Alex Chilton`s "Top 30",a compilation that includes tracks from all his records plus other rarities gives us one more example of his
Incredible talent.

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