Published Mar 18, 2010Yesterday (March 17), Alex Chilton of '60s group the Box Tops and '70s power pop favourites Big Star suddenly passed away after suffering a heart attack. His latter band, which were recently immortalized with the Keep an Eye on the Sky box set, were just a days away from a performance at this year's SXSW festival.
It's only been one day since the songwriter's death, but already tributes and kind words have come from all corners of the entertainment universe for Chilton and his music, which touched thousands of fans around the world.
In an interview with BBC 6 Music, Primal Scream singer Bobby Gillespie paid tribute to Chilton, calling him a "genius of rock'n'roll" whose work was "as good the Byrds or the Beatles."
"He just made so many great records, and they were crazy rock'n'roll records," Gillespie said. "But they were also art records and beautiful records, mournful records, sad records, joyous records. What I'm trying to say is that Alex Chilton was one of the greats."
In a similar interview, Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake told 6 Music news that Chilton "didn't think much of the Big Star legacy. He saw himself foremost as a musician," he said. "And he was an incredible guitar player. I think people often miss that."
Blake, who has repeatedly acknowledge Big Star's influence on his band, continued, "You ask any contemporary band and they'll be aware of Big Star and Alex Chilton."
And although the party at SXSW continues, Choir of Young Believers singer Jannis Noya Makrigiannis took a few minutes out of the band's set to quietly play a verse of Big Star's "Thirteen," but drew no extra attention to the fact, not even mentioning Chilton's name.
The Twitter universe is also buzzing with tributes to the singer: Electronic UK act Hot Chip, Canadian indie group Young Galaxy and DJ Erol Alkan all paid tribute via tweets, as did a number of wrestlers, a slew of media types and nearly every fan of That 70's Show, for which Big Star wrote the theme song.
Even Memphis Congressman Steve Cohen paid tribute on the House Floor: