Alex Chilton has left us.
The gifted and underpaid legend topped the charts with The Box Tops' "The Letter" at the tender age of sixteen, and later combined British Invasion rock with the blue eyed soul of his native Memphis in the band Big Star, an absolute commercial failure that through sheer force of quality eventually became one of the most beloved and influential bands of all time.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine at Allmusic has a great tribute up that explains the larger meaning of Alex Chilton much more eloquently than I ever could. For me, like many others, Big Star were a band I discovered nearly thirty years after their dissolution, fleshed out over many nights driving a van full of passed out dudes, guitars and amplifiers through stretches of midwestern highway listening to Radio City and the unfinished Third/Sister Lovers. The mix of vulnerability, frustration and lush melodic genius made Alex's songs and performances among the most special ever committed to tape.
I certainly hoped to one day see Alex Chilton humbly accept an acceptance into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, some kind of piece of vindication that would probably mean next to nothing to him, but a lot to his fans.
Rest easy, Alex. You'll always be one of my heroes. I hope you and Chris Bell are somewhere playing "In the Street" together.