But my appreciation of the band's ingenuity, masterful sense of melody and tone, and sheer sonic pleasure runs deep. Deeper with every listen, in fact.
So naturally I was heartbroken this week to learn of the sudden death of Alex Chilton, Big Star's primary singer, guitarist and songwriter. He died of an apparent heart attack at just 59 years old.
I love all of Big Star's music, but if I had to pin down my favorite track, this would be it: "Back of a Car," recorded in 1973 and released on the seminal "Radio City" album.
I never saw Big Star or Alex Chilton perform. But I will always remember my excitement, back in 2001, when I was in Memphis for business and made a side trip to Ardent Studios, the recording studio where Big Star (and many other great rock bands) committed their musical magic to tape. Walking the building's hallowed halls, I could almost hear echoes of the bright, ringing guitar chords that opened so many of Big Star's rollicking masterpieces.
Rest in peace, Mr. Chilton. Popular acclaim may have eluded you, but your influence was incalculable. Countless bands (REM and the Replacements, for sure) would have taken shape much differently without the irresistable magnetism of Big Star's power-pop song structures. I suspect, too, that a lot of Guitar Dads just like me feel forever in your debt. More about Chilton here.