A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton, From Box Tops to Big Star to Backdoor Man

A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton, From Box Tops to Big Star to Backdoor Man

Holly George-Warren

Language: English

Pages: 400

ISBN: 0143127055

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The first biography of the artist who “essentially invented indie and alternative rock” (Spin)

A brilliant and influential songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist, the charismatic Alex Chilton was more than a rock star—he was a true cult icon. Awardwinning music writer Holly George-Warren’s A Man Called Destruction is the first biography of this enigmatic artist, who died in 2010. Covering Chilton’s life from his early work with the charttopping Box Tops and the seminal power-pop band Big Star to his experiments with punk and roots music and his sprawling solo career, A Man Called Destruction is the story of a musical icon and a richly detailed chronicle of pop music’s evolution, from the mid-1960s through today’s indie rock.

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machine.” Together, the pair would collaborate on some of Alex’s favorite portraits. CBGB soon became Alex’s second home, with Godlis usually present. “He liked being part of this whole community,” Chris recalls. “I could drink free at CBGB’s,” Alex said. “The Ramones, Blondie, and the Talking Heads were all coming out of that scene and were already too big to get close to or be friends with. But Richard Hell was omnipresent, [Television guitarist] Richard Lloyd was all over the place. The Dead

My Soul”/“Morpha Too”/“I’m in Love with a Girl” (Ardent, 1974) “September Gurls”/“September Gurls” (Ardent, 1974) “September Gurls”/“September Gurls” (Privilege, 1974) “Kizza Me”/“Dream Lover” (Aura, U.K., 1978) “Jesus Christ”/“Big Black Car” (Aura, U.K., 1978) “September Gurls”/“Mod Lang” (Stax, U.K., 1978) “Mine Exclusively”/“Patti Girl” (NME, U.K., 1993) “September Gurls”/“The Letter” (live; Norton, 1999) “Feel”/”Mod Lang” (Rhino, 2009) Albums #1 Record (Ardent, 1972) Radio City

It’s a huge hit!’” When the record became a smash in Birmingham, Alabama, all hell broke loose. The Box Tops flew for the first time, on tiny Southern Airlines, to perform a sold-out concert there. Afterward, at the Holiday Inn, where they spent the night, they got their first taste of pop-star life when groupies and fans converged for the evening. Fueled by the buzz, Bell shipped three hundred thousand copies of “The Letter” during the first week in August. It charted with a bullet that week on

was the first exposition of it.” With lyrics like “Free again to sing my songs again, free again to end my longing, to be out on my own again,” Alex made it clear he was ready to move on. Alex and Terry recorded the song a number of times, with Alex singing one version in his raspy Box Tops voice and another in his midrange. “I wanted to exploit all of that—I remember thinking we can’t have something that doesn’t sound like the Box Tops, but I also loved the beauty of the soft things, like ‘The

Radio City’s release date approached, all concerned hoped it would fare better than Big Star’s debut. The PR department at Stax was still pushing the story that the label was thriving as it ventured into music other than R&B. A January 13 article in Memphis’s Commercial Appeal, STAX EXPANDS WITH POP, C&W, GOSPEL, stated that numerous personnel had been hired to help with the label’s new releases in other genres, and quoted Stax cofounder Jim Stewart as saying, “You have to always be creative and

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