Big Star Frontman Alex Chilton Dead at 59

Music lovers at the South by Southwest festival were among the first to hear the news Big Star frontman Alex Chilton‘s death on Wednesday. The 59-year-old indie rocker was reportedly suffering heart problems and died in the emergency room of a New Orleans hospital.

Alex Chilton (Photo: Philippe Brizard - Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Alex Chilton (Photo: Philippe Brizard - Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Alex Chilton was known for his work with bands such as the Big Tops and Big Star, but his greatest legacy is the major influence he had as an indie rock hero. Bands such as R.E.M., The Bangles and the Replacements all pulled inspiration from Chilton and Big Star. “While Big Star struggled with success commercially, their early ’70s, power-pop sound is often cited as directly influencing bands like Cheap Trick, R.E.M. and the Replacements,” a Billboard magazine biography of the band notes.

“Alex Chilton always messed with your head, charming and amazing you while doing so,” SXSW Creative Director Brent Grulke said in a press statement. “Alex Chilton was an artist of the very highest caliber. It’s too early to do much but cry about our loss right now, but he’ll be missed, and missed more as the ages pass and his myth continues to expand — that music isn’t going anywhere. R.I.P. and thank you, friend.”

Chilton and Big Star were scheduled to perform at South by Southwest this weekend. A representative for the festival said the band plans to go ahead with a Saturday afternoon panel dedicated to Big Star’s legacy, but the performance slated for Saturday night is “still up in the air” at this point.

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