R.I.P. Alex Chilton

18 03 2010

A couple hours after I got home from work tonight, I found out that Alex Chilton (Box Tops, Big Star) died a few hours prior, of what is believed to be a heart attack.  He was 59.

As I sat down to write this, I pulled out my ipod and made of playlist that started off with The Replacements’ “Alex Chilton”, and fleshed out the rest of the playlist with Big Star and Box Tops tracks (in case you’re thinking you have no idea who Alex is, you’ve undoubtedly heard “The Letter” by the Box Tops.)  I put the ipod on shuffle, but made sure the first song that played was the Replacements song.  Serendipitously, the very next song that was shuffled on next was Big Star’s “Thank You Friends” which features the lyrics, “Thank you friends…I’m so grateful for all the things you helped me do…I’m often a bead of light…without my friends I’d be swept up high by the wind.”

I remember the day I made a concerted effort to get into Alex Chilton.  It was about 13 ago now.  It seemed every time I opened Rolling Stone or SPIN, a band was citing Big Star as an influence.  I’d never heard of Big Star, but I knew I needed check this band out.  I went to Cheapo in St. Paul and picked up Big Star’s #1 Record, Radio City, & Third/Sister Lovers, as well as The Best of the Box Tops.  I was really taking a risk because I knew & heard nothing at all of Big Star and the Box Tops.  So, being an 18 year old making minimum wage at a restaurant, I was spending a good chunk of my money on 4 albums that I wasn’t entirely certain I’d like.  There was a moment of reassurance though when I went to pay for them and the clerk looked at my stack and said “Oooooh, Alex Chilton!  Someone’s gonna have some fun tonight!”

It did take a tiny bit of getting used to…but I’ve found that the best music out there takes time to grab hold.  That shows there’s substance.  Most of my favorite albums of all time didn’t really take the first few times.

I am saddened by Alex’s passing.  I find it very strange that just a few weeks ago, I felt the urge to grab the first three Big Star albums and listen to them all day long.  Then a couple weeks ago, I told a friend of mine that she should really check them out.  Maybe Alex will finally get the respect he justly deserves.  I do regret that I never picked up Big Star’s fourth studio album,  2005’s In Space.  I’ll definitely have to rectify that “oversight” this weekend.


R.I.P. Mark Linkous

7 03 2010

I hate to quote a song that I can not stand, but Joni Mitchell said it best.  “You don’t know whatcha got till it’s gone”

Just like with Elliott Smith.  I’ve owned a couple of Mark Linkous’ Sparklehorse albums, but never gave them the time and attention they deserved until after he died.  With Elliott, I ended up kicking myself for not spending more time with XO while he was alive.  It mostly just sat there in my collection, next to the Good Will Hunting soundtrack.  I now adore Elliott Smith so much that I even named one of my dogs after him and now own everything he recorded, including his albums with Heatmiser.

This morning I woke up and found that Sparklehorse leader Mark Linkous had committed suicide.  He fired a bullet into his heart…Elliott commited suicide by stabbing himself in the heart.  Does that mean that Mark Linkous will be my next musical love?  It’s possible.

I had purchased used copies of Sparklehorse’s Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot and Good Morning Spider within the last couple years.  Gave a quick listen to the first couple tracks and thought “I’m definitely going to have to spend time with these.”  Unfortunately, having such a large album collection; I didn’t get around to giving them a good listen until today.  I went to three record stores today and was pretty surprised Sparklehorse wasn’t coming out of the speakers at any of them.

Anyway, after listening to both of the albums….I want more, and can definitely see Sparklehorse growing on me in a major way.  I just regret, as per usual, that it took the artist’s death to appreciate their work.

R.I.P. Jeff Hanson

8 06 2009

This morning, I feel a bit betrayed that the universe had never presented Jeff Hanson to me before today.  I’m sitting in class on this drizzly day, enjoying my black coffee (which is all very fitting if you ask me.  The weather and my choice of beverage)…. I checked PFM this morning and saw a headline from the weekend that said “R.I.P Jeff Hanson.”  His name looked familiar, but after reading the brief write-up, I found that I didn’t know this particular singer/songwriter during his life time.  It’s possible I’d read it when checking the concert calendar for the Triple Rock, 7th St. Entry and Turf Club.

As stated in the Star Tribune article, Jeff was found dead in his apartment by his parents.  It appeared as if Jeff had died as a result of an accidental fall.

After reading about him on PFM, I checked him out at the Kill Rock Stars site where they have 4 MP3’s to download.  The music sounds nearly identical to Elliott Smith’s Either/Or and XO albums.  I’m getting that excited feeling I got when I first started getting into Elliott.  While Elliott was alive, I only owned XO and the Good Will Hunting soundtrack and didn’t really get into with a hardcore passion until after he died.

I think the same thing will happen with Jeff Hanson’s catalog for me now too.  The songs will grab hold and I’ll feel tremendous sorrow over the fact that this talent has been taken from us and we’ll never get to hear anything new from him…and I’ll regret that I never took the chance to see him live in concert.

As I’m sitting here in class, I’m listening to a small 8 song playlist on repeat, which consists of 4 Jeff Hanson songs from the KRS site…and 4 Nick Drake covers done by a young Elton John which I picked up this morning from Aquarium Drunkard.  I’m just sitting here….waiting for 12pm to roll around, so I can head to Cheapo and pick up my first Jeff Hanson album.  Based on the tracks I’ve been listening to, I think this may be a defining moment in my record collecting life.

Richey James Edwards

25 01 2009

Unexplainable mysteries in music always intrigue the hell out of me.  As I compose this, I can’t think of any other music mystery that intrigues me more than the disappearance of Richey Edwards of the Manic Street Preachers.
On January 31, 1995, The Manic Street Preachers checked into the London Embassy Hotel in preparation of leaving for their American tour the next day.  Richey speaks to his mother and states that he’s not looking forward to touring America.  The next day, Richey checks out of the hotel, stops by his apartment to drop off some things, and is never seen again.
When Richey didn’t arrive in America by February 2nd, a missing person’s report was filed.
During the month of February ’95, Richey is reportedly spotted several times.  During the two weeks following his leaving the Embassy Hotel in London, Richey is supposedly spotted at the passport office in Newport; at the Newport bus station; and picked up by a taxi driver.
In May ’95, Manic Street Preachers met with Richey’s parents to discuss continuing on with the band.
In November ’96, a college lecturer from South Wales, supposedly sees Richey at a market in Goa, India.
In November ’98, a British-born barmaid on the island of Fuerteventura, supposedly sees Richey in the Underground Bar in the town of Corralejo. When a patron of the bar shouted “‘You’re Richey from the Manic Street Preachers!”, Richey turned around and ran out the door.
In January 2002, almost 7 years after his disappearance, Richey’s parents state that they will never have him declared dead.
In October 2004, Richey is supposedly spotted on Famara beach, Lanzarote.
November 23, 2008… Richey’s missing person’s case is officially closed after, by court order, his status is changed to “presumed dead.”
Manic Street Preachers are currently working on their next album which will comprise only of lyrics Richey had left behind.
The Manics still put 1/4 of their album royalties into an account for Richey just in case he comes back.
This picture was taken as Richey was walking off stage as a member of the Manic Street Preachers for the last time.

This is the last known photograph ever taken of Richey James Edwards (possibly taken at the passport office in Newport?)

I received all of my information from this website, where you can find a more detailed chronology which also details Richey’s self destruction a little bit more.