Simply awful news out of New Orleans tonight, as word emerges that Alex Chilton of the peerless power-pop act Big Star has died of an apparent heart attack just days before he was scheduled to perform with the reconstituted band at the South By Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas.

Perhaps second only to The Velvet Underground’s influence, the rough-hewn pop of Chilton and Big Star had a tremendous impact on many of the leading lights of ’80s college rock, most notably R.E.M. and, of course, The Replacements, whose 1987 single “Alex Chilton” introduced a whole new generation to the musician (who, incidentally, also played guitar on Pleased to Meet Me’s “Can’t Hardly Wait.”)

As Paul Westerberg so famously sang: “Children by the million/Sing for Alex Chilton/When he comes ’round/They sing, ‘I’m in love/What’s that song?/I’m in love with that song.’”

Hear music from Alex Chilton and Big Star after the jump…

The Replacements, 'Alex Chilton'

“Alex Chilton,” by The Replacements

If he was from Venus, would he feed us with a spoon?
If he was from Mars, wouldnt that be cool
Standing right on campus, would he stamp us in a pile?
Hangin’ down in Memphis all the while

(Chorus)
Children by the million sing for Alex Chilton when he comes ’round
They sing “I’m in love. What’s that song?
I’m in love with that song.”

Cerebral rape and pillage in a village of his choice.
Invisible man who can sing in a visible voice.
Feeling like a hundred bucks, exchange good lucks face to face.
Checkin’ his stash by the trash at St. Mark’s place.

(Repeat chorus)

I never travel far, without a little Big Star

(Instrumental break)

Runnin’ ’round the house, Mickey Mouse and the Tarot cards.
Falling asleep with a flop pop video on.
If he was from Venus, would he meet us on the moon?
If he died in Memphis, then that’d be cool, babe.

(Repeat chorus)

 

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