MESSAGE TO DEATH: Motherfucker, you need to quit gobbling up all our best people. Why don't you go after somebody we could do without? I mean, Dick Cheney has been sitting on your doorstep for years now. Look, I can understand why you'd be reluctant to let him in-- I wouldn't want him in my place either. But you know better than anyone how inevitable you are. You're gonna have to man up and do it one of these days. Dude, you knew the risks when you put on the uniform. And what about all those goddamn Baldwin Brothers? Or Doctor Phil? You really must start doing some fair and balanced reaping.
I would tell you to drop dead, but I confess I can't see how that would work.
(AP) NEW ORLEANS — Singer and guitarist Alex Chilton, known for his influential work with bands the Box Tops and Big Star, has died. He was 59.
Chilton's longtime friend John Fry says that Chilton died Wednesday at a hospital in New Orleans after experiencing what appeared to be heart problems.
Fry, the owner of Memphis-based Ardent Studios, says he has spoken to Chilton's wife and that she's very distressed. Fry said: "It was just a sudden and unexpected event."
Chilton had been scheduled to perform with Big Star on Saturday at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas.
The festival's creative director, Brent Grulke, says Chilton's gift for melody was second to none.
Gulke says: "Alex Chilton always messed with your head, charming and amazing you while doing so."
As the teenage singer for the pop-soul outfit the Box Tops, Chilton topped the charts with The Letter in 1967. The band's other hits were Soul Deep and Cry Like A Baby.
His work with Big Star had less mainstream success but made him a cult hero to other musicians, as evidenced by the title of the 1987 Replacements song, Alex Chilton. Big Star's three 1970s LPs all earned spots on Rolling Stone magazine's list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Chilton said in a 1987 interview that did not mind flying under the radar.
"What would be ideal would be to make a ton of money and have nobody know about you," he said. "Fame has a lot of baggage to carry around. I wouldn't want to be like Bruce Springsteen. I don't need that much money and wouldn't want to have 20 bodyguards following me.
"If I did become really popular, the critics probably wouldn't like me all that much," he said. "They like to root for the underdog."
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In 1977, the Cramps demoed several tracks and headlined at CBGB's in July but things really began to gel when Nick Knox (Nick Stephanoff) joined on drums the following month. The Cramps met Alex Chilton, formerly of the Boxtops and Big Star, who pronounced them "the greatest rock'n'roll group in the world".
In October, they were down at Ardent Studios in Memphis with Chilton, producing deranged covers of Jack Scott's "The Way I Walk", Roy Orbison's "Domino" and the Trashmen's "Surfin' Bird" alongside their own composition "Human Fly". Ork Records, which had released singles by Television and Richard Hell, couldn't quite get the financing right and the Cramps eventually issued these four tracks on two separate singles on their own label, Vengeance, in 1978. The Cramps' logo, inspired by the Tales from the Crypt comic, helped them gain further attention.
Touring as far afield as Canada and the West Coast of America, the group's live show created quite a buzz and the Police manager Miles Copeland snapped up the rights to the singles for European release as the EP Gravest Hits on his Illegal label in July 1979. He also brought the band over to Europe to support the Police on tour.After an unsuccessful attempt at recording an album in New York, with the British guitarist Chris Spedding producing, the Cramps went back to Memphis and Alex Chilton, this time also using Sam Phillips Recording Studio (formerly Sun) as well as Ardent. The resulting sessions became Songs the Lord Taught Us, one of the best damn albums of all time. (Pierre Perrone)