One of the biggest names at this year’s SXSW music festival in Austin, Tex. was reunited ’70s power-pop pioneers Big Star, who had a gig scheduled for late this Saturday night. The festival was hit hard by tonight’s sad news that Big Star frontman Alex Chilton has passed away at age 59.
Big Star drummer Jody Stephens and bassist Andy Hummel were also scheduled to appear at a Saturday afternoon panel devoted to Big Star’s legacy. Chilton had not been expected to participate at that event; a rep for SXSW says that his bandmates are considering going ahead with the panel, recast as a tribute to their late friend. The rep adds that the status of the band’s Saturday night performance is “still up in the air” at this time.
“Alex Chilton always messed with your head, charming and amazing you while doing so,” SXSW Creative Director Brent Grulke said in a statement. “His gift for melody was second to none, yet he frequently seemed in disdain of that gift. He seemed as troubled by neglect as he did by fame. He wrote the most accessible pop songs that turned into something quite sour on closer reflection. It was impossible to know what he was thinking. But it was always worth pondering, because that’s what a truly great artist makes us do. And make no mistake: Alex Chilton was an artist of the very highest caliber. It’s too early to do much but cry about our loss right now, but he’ll be missed, and missed more as the ages pass and his myth continues to expand — that music isn’t going anywhere. R.I.P. and thank you, friend.”
The Music Mix extends its sincerest condolences to Alex Chilton’s friends, fans, and family. We’ll have more on this tragic loss soon. Share your thoughts and memories of Chilton in the comments below.
–Additional reporting by Whitney Pastorek
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