Five years ago today the world said goodbye to the profoundly talented and profoundly influential Alex Chilton at the incredibly young age of only 59. I doubt there is anyone who reads the blog who is unaware of the immense body of work produced by Alex firstly in The Box Tops, then with Big Star and finally as a solo performer. Like many others I didn't know much about Alex until Teenage Fan Club appeared on the scene and everyone was talking about what a huge debt they owed to Big Star. The only song, apart from The Letter and September Gurls (thanks to The Bangles), that I knew up to that point was the his track about the AIDS epidemic of the 80's, No Sex, that had appeared on a free cassette that was given away with Underground magazine.
Fast forward about 4 years after hearing Radio City for the first time and we are in the hallowed grounds of Glasgow University waiting for Big Star to appear on the stage, waiting for one of our heroes to be on stage in our hometown. We have just seen an excellent support act in Magnapop and are all waiting for the great man to appear. Have we built this up too much ? Are we expecting too much ? It felt like all of Glasgow's musical royalty were all in this small hall, it felt like we were in a room with the coolest people in the Glasgow music scene and we were all there for the one thing. There are few gigs that I have been to that had that palpable sense of anticipation from the entire audience. The next 90 minutes or so, in the company of Chilton, Jody Stephens and two youngsters from The Posies, flies by in a haze as we were witness to some of the most perfect pop music you are ever going to hear. Sadly I can't recall all the songs played that night but I do vividly remember the perfection that is September Gurls, the hairs on the back of the neck when they started to play Thirteen and the sheer joy of Thank You Friends. Maybe we had built it up too much and, to be honest, I have been to many better gigs over the years but it really was a privilege to witness one of my favourite performers playing those songs right in front of us.
Alex Chilton, as we all know, had his own personal demons throughout his life and, if not for them may have been so much better known than he is. There is a very good reason why is biography is titled A Man Called Destruction. What cannot be taken away from him, however, is the wealth of wonderful material that he produced over the years and the influence he has had on so many bands still playing today.Go easy Alex....
Thank You Friends