Big Star

l got into Big Star quite late, the first time l remember hearing them must have been about 1989 when l was staying at a friends flat in London, l remember going through my friends cassettes which mostly consisted of hip-hop from New York PIrate radio shows, anyway l came across a tape that had Alex Chilton/Big Star written
on it, now l knew the name Alex Chilton from my copy of ‘The Gravist Hits” by the Cramps, he was listed as Producer so l was kinda thinking maybe this would be rockabilly kinda stuff, boy was l wrong. When l heard the tape it was so catchy and in no time at all l was getting hooked in.
Big Star only existed for a short time in the early 70’s and only recorded about 3 albums which are all really good, however the story of Big Star was one of mysterious proportions so it was wondrous to find out that a book revisting the saga of the band was out there.
Big Star: The Story of Rock’s Forgotten Band by Rob Jovanovic is that soldier, an elegant book that not only deals with The Big Star tale but is also the story of Ardent Recording Studios and how the band and studio crossed into each others pathways, Big Star and Ardent were both based in Memphis, Tennessee, USA.
Alex Chilton who was Big Stars main vocalist and songwriter started his career with The Box Tops who shot to fame in the 60’s with the soul hit ‘The Letter”, after a few more hits the band broke up and Alex returned to Memphis and hooked up with Chris Bell (guitar and vocals) and Andy Hummel (bass) who were two english obsessed kids who were into the 60’s culture of films and music. It’s interesting to read about this, as when l read books about English Musicians they are equally obsessed with American culture in the same way.
Soon they hooked up with Jody Stephens (drums) and began recording at Ardent, they put out their first album “No 1 Record” then the problems started.
This book deals with what happened, all the madness and bizarreness is all mentioned here including such events as Alex hanging out with The Beach Boys and meeting Charles Manson, the craziness of what occurred during the recording of the third Big Star record to what happened when the band split up and what Alex, Chris , Andy and Jody continued to do afterwards. This book has also been updated to include when they reformed with Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer from The Posies and recorded the” In Space” album and toured until the death of Alex Chilton. I for one was glad to get the insight of this great band, there’s a movie about the band that got released last month called “Nothing Can Hurt Me” and there is a new book about the life of Alex Chilton called ‘A Man Called Destruction” which I’m looking forward to having a gander at. Big Star still remain one of my all time favourite bands.

Chris McDougall

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