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Friday, 19 March 2010

Alex Chilton Has Died

Sad news. Singer-songwriter (and sometimes unsung genius) Alex Chilton has died, at the age of 59. I first heard the name when it was used as the title of a famous song by 80s cult band The Replacements - one of the most ecstatic and erratic rock songs of all time.

Chilton happened to be a part of several extraordinary musical moments - first in The Box Tops, a 60s band, where he sounded implausibly old and determined and haunted in the huge hit 'The Letter' (whose 1 minute and 53 seconds tell an eternal story of longing - is it a coincidence that The Replacements take those numbers, 1.53, and make their song, 'Alex Chilton', run for precisely 3.15?).

Next, he created some of the finest power pop, in the 70s, with Big Star - the band that famously inspired REM and The Replacements (not least in their song personas as fragile, sensitive, and romantic loners). Finally, in his third incarnation, as simply Alex Chilton, he continued to create his own brand of jittery, dizzy, ultra-cool outsider indie rock. Rock and roll is here to stay - Chilton is a big part of why.
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