Among all the tragic stories coming out of New Orleans, the devastation of families and homes, I've learned that Alex Chilton is among the missing. Chilton was, first, the teenage singer of the Box Tops who had a late-60s blue-eyed-soul hit with “The Letter. In the 70s, Alex formed Big Star, one of those obscure bands that seems to have only sold records to future 1980s indie rockers (The Replacements named a song after him; The Bangles covered “September Gurls” and, now that indie has been mainstreamed, the theme song to “That 70s Show” was Big Star's “In the Street”). Since the 70s, he's tried to live down his cult-hero status, moving between Memphis and New Orleans, releasing songs like the sublime “No Sex”, the silly “Dalai Lama” in the 80s, and a series of albums of obscure covers during the 90s, and, latterly, touring solo and with various reformed versions of the Box Tops and Big Star.
In their eponymous song in his honor, the Replacements imagined the rock’n’roll world I wish we lived in:
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."
… I never travel far
without a little Big Star.
-The Replacements, Alex Chilton
Update: Alex has been found, safe and well, apparently!