March 18th, 2010
11:20 AM ET

Alex Chilton: An appreciation

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“Everywhere I go, there are all these Big Star freaks, and they’re nice little guys who are usually in college, and they’re kind of lonely and misunderstood, learning to play guitar.”
– Alex Chilton, Pulse!, June 1992

This is how Alex Chilton, who died Wednesday, described the people who kept Big Star from being forgotten, before he re-formed the band with drummer Jody Stephens, before they put out another live recording as well as another album of new material.  People like me, I suppose, who own all three of the original Big Star albums on both vinyl and CD.

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. The same could easily be said about Big Star, and with much greater validity.  Their songs have been covered over the last 30 years by everyone from Elliott Smith to Wilco to the Bangles to a number of lesser-known artists.

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