Monday, December 29, 2014

John Fry Memorial Piece About Alex Chilton That He Sent Me In 2010

An unexpected and unwanted event occurred on March 17, 2010. At about  
7 pm, I received a call from Jody Stephens, who had gone to Austin  
that day to participate in SXSW. He quickly said that he had received  
a call from Laura, Alex Chilton’s wife. He had suffered symptoms at  
home and been taken to a hospital where he had died in the emergency  
room. There initially was nothing more to say beyond “What, say that  
again, are you sure?”

Then we said to one another, I guess we better cancel everything. I  
was about to hang up when it occurred to me to say “It’s your  
decision, but you guys should talk about it among yourselves. Maybe  
you want to go ahead with everything as a tribute to Alex.” They  
called back in a couple of hours and said they were going to perform  
with guest artists. I think it was the right decision.

There was a tremendous outpouring of love and support from the artist  
community at SXSW. The media were courteous and respectful in s far as  
I have seen. We all are grateful.

The band has also decided to go ahead with the already scheduled show  
at The Levitt Shell in Memphis on May 15. It will be similar to the  
SXSW show, essentially a Big Star gig with guest performers, honoring  
Alex’s memory, but playing only the Big Star repertoire, rather than  
trying to cover ever era of Alex’s long and varied career.

The first time I met Alex was during Box Tops overdub and mixing  
sessions at Ardent in 1967. For all the years hence, we had been  
friends and colleagues. He was a brilliant, widely read man, with a  
vast knowledge of music from many genres, art, literature, politics,  
and history. Big Star played in London in 2008 and 2009. For some  
reason, I felt almost compelled to go and see both shows. I am glad  
that I did. The shows were great. Alex and his wife Laura were so  
happy together. I ask myself “why now?”, and of course, there is no  

One week ago, I picked up the Big Star boxed set, looked at the cover  
photo with their smiling faces, and reflected on the fact that there  
are now two of these four people about whom I have received shocking  
sudden death phone calls, one in 1978 and another in 2010.

Alex and Chris are sorely missed, much loved, and deeply respected.
-John Fry
spring, 2010

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