I know there will be many more tributes to come because Chilton was so special. Tomorrow he was scheduled to play SXSW with Big Star bandmates. In the meantime, I’ve been gathering what musicians have said about Chilton this week.
Ray Davies @ SXSW
During the acoustic portion of his 90-minute set, Davies told the crowd about how Chilton had come to his aid after the Kinks leader was shot in January 2004 in New Orleans. “He would come over and lend me a guitar,” Davies recalled. “He became my friend … He helped me a lot.”
Bobby Gillespie [Primal Scream]
Gillespie said Primal Scream travelled to Arden Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, early in their careers because that was where Big Star had recorded. “We made records there because of Alex Chilton and Big Star,” Gillespie said. “Get Your Rocks Off was recorded at Arden.
“It was like a pilgrimage to go there and record in the same studio that Alex Chilton and Big Star had made Sister Lovers with [producer] Jim Dickinson, which was a huge inspiration to Primal Scream when we started.”
Chilton did not get the recognition he deserved, Gillespie believes. “He never did, and he never would, because guys like Alex Chilton are too far out, they’re too hip, too advanced for most people to recognise.
“I think he made far out rock ‘n’ roll records – real mad crazy art punk rock ‘n’ roll.”
“I’m a big fan of his singing, just the sound of his voice.”
Norman Blake [Teenage Fanclub]
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.”
Dave Faulkner [Hoodoo Gurus]
“As much as he was celebrated for his songwriting, he mentored and produced so many other bands,” he told Billboard. “Somebody like the Cramps were titans of music and Alex was instrumental in presenting their vision. He was hugely influential on generations of music.”
John “Bucky” Wilkin [aka Ronny of the ’60s Nashville surf-rock group Ronny and The Daytonas]
Alex was a complex cat and represented different things to different people. I saw a man deep into the Delta blues, a very honest man — someone who wore the brown leather boots of far-left Labor and sometimes made a joke of the music scene. I saw someone more like the William Burroughs of ’60s Southern rock, hipper than just about anyone I knew, but with a dark and tortured side.
If you have time there is a great lengthy article from Crawdaddy! about Chilton: 1975-1981 that’s worth a read.