By Clark Collis
Updated July 30, 2020 at 06:21 PM EDT
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Image Credit: Chilton: Jay Blakesberg / Retna Ltd., Stephens: Ch Drummer Jody Stephens should be preparing to play a show with Big Star this Saturday at the SXSW music festival. Instead, he is mourning his friend and bandmate Alex Chilton, who died yesterday. “It took me completely by surprise,” Stephens said this afternoon, over the phone from Austin, Texas. “I saw Alex in November and he looked great. Good shape. Great spirit. Alex was doing wonderfully. Yesterday, I get a call from his wife and, you know, he’s passed away. I spent the rest of the day and this morning just feeling numb. It’s a shocker. You really have to bare yourself emotionally to be in a band. And when you do that, it opens up stronger bonds. There’s a profound relationship.”

The drummer said he was finding at least a measure of solace in the fact that so many people at SXSW have been expressing their love for Big Star’s music in the wake of Chilton’s unexpected death. “There has been this outpouring,” he revealed. “I just spoke to somebody and he said, ‘I’ve seen three different bands already today that have done Big Star songs.’ It means a lot.”

Stephens also confirmed that Saturday’s Big Star show will go ahead in some form or other. “We still plan to play but we will turn it into a musical way of honoring Alex,” he said. “And that, to me. is the important thing. I had this great sibling feel with Alex. It’s not like we talked a lot, but we had this wonderful connection onstage.”

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