REM, M Ward and more to play Big Star legend's songs at Austin festival?

A tribute show to Big Star legend Alex Chilton is being organized by fellow bandmates and might happen at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) festival.

“We’ve decided to still put on some kind of performance in tribute to Alex,” Ken Stringfellow, bassist for Big Star since 1993, told Uncut. “There’s already a lot of people stepping forward, interested in augmenting the band and singing some of Alex’s songs.

“We drew up a shortlist of people we knew were playing at SXSW who might be interested, but I’m not sure exactly who can actually do it yet.

Jon [Auer, guitarist for Big Star and the Posies] has already spoken to M Ward, John Doe and Chuck Prophet. There’s also Cheap Trick, who are known for doing a Big Star song on a television show in the States [“In the Street”, the theme to That 70’s Show], so they might be possible.

“And I’m pretty sure that [REM bassist] Mike Mills is coming to join us. I’m sure there are a lot more people too, who we don’t realise want to get involved yet.”

Alex Chilton died of a heart attack on Wednesday, 17 March. He topped the charts with the Box Tops in the late 60s with “The Letter” and then formed the hugely influential, critically adored Big Star in 1971.

Chilton’s works also include the production of The Cramps first album, and following his death, Primal Scream’s leader Bobby Gillespie told 6 Music: “When we started Primal Scream, Alex was a huge influence on us, and he still is. Even if he’d only ever produced the first Cramps album he’d still be one of my rock ‘n’ roll heroes. But he did a lot more than that.”

A full obituary will appear in the next issue of Uncut.

Interview: Rob Hughes. Story: Benoit Rajalu
Photo: John Fry