By Jason SchreursAlex Chilton, singer and guitarist of Big Star, has passed away at the age of 59. The musician, who was immortalized in the 1987 Replacements song "Alex Chilton," died of an apparent heart attack on Wednesday (March 17), only three days before Big Star were scheduled to perform at SXSW in Austin, TX.
His band-mate, Jody Stephens, confirmed the sad news to Memphis's The Commercial Appeal only a couple of hours after Chilton's death.
"Alex passed away a couple of hours ago," said Stephens. "I don't have a lot of particulars, but they kind of suspect that it was a heart attack."
Chilton, born in Memphis, first fronted the popular group Box Tops when he was 16 years old, scoring a handful of hits with the band. After they broke up in 1970, Chilton formed Big Star, who released several albums over the years, inspiring the likes of Paul Westerberg and R.E.M. with their gruff-vocaled, power pop sound.
Big Star were set to play the annual SXSW festival to support the release of the band's box set released last year on Rhino Records, entitled Keep an Eye on the Sky.
According to The Commercial Appeal, Chilton had been complaining of his health earlier in the day, was taken to the emergency room of a hospital in his hometown of New Orleans, LA, and was pronounced dead upon arrival.
Exclaim! sends our condolences to Chilton's family and friends.