Friday, March 19, 2010

Alex Chilton “Il Ribelle (The Rebel)"

When an artist dies, it’s pretty easy for music writers/critics/fanboys to slip into hyperbole about that person’s influence.

And maybe you’ve heard that Alex Chilton died this week, and have balked at some of the reverential coverage.

You may have never heard of Alex Chilton, though, at the very least, you recognized his biggest hit, “The Letter” from when he was the 16 year old lead singer of The Box Tops.

But it’s a testament to his enormous influence, to check out the music sampler below, to hear who counted Chilton as an inspiration.

And his obscurity, is probably a testament to his attitude and obstinance. After feeling that he and his music, were poorly handled at the end of the Box Tops and with his next group Big Star, Chilton was willfully rebellious against being boxed in by styles, trends, and simple marketability. “You can’t have me, not for free,” he once sang.

Big Star was set to perform this weekend at South By Southwest, with the 3 original surviving members playing together for the first time in 35 years. No doubt, it would have introduce Chilton to a whole new world of music lovers.

For today, we just have to celebrate is influence.

Check out just a few of Alex Chilton's fans, singing songs he wrote or co-wrote:

(when you get to the "Various Artists" cuts, click through to the album to see the various bands involved)

"You want me to do some audience-pleasing old style rock n roll? Sure, let me sing in Italian."

For better or worse, this is Chilton's most famous songwriting credit:

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