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- Posted on Mar 21st 2010 9:00AM by Eric R. Danton
An impressive array of musicians inspired by Big Star joined drummer Jody Stephens, guitarist Jon Auer and bassist Ken Stringfellow to honor the music and memory of Chilton, who co-founded the group in 1971.
The 18-song set featured contributions from R.E.M.'s Mike Mills, M. Ward, the Meat Puppets' Kurt Kirkwood, the Lemonheads' Evan Dando, John Doe, Chuck Prophet, Chris Stamey, Sondre Lerche, Amy Speace, Susan Cowsill and the Watson Twins, along with original Big Star guitarist Andy Hummel, who hadn't performed live with the band in 35 years.
The showcase started with a message from Chilton's widow, Laura Chilton, who described the singer as "the most considerate and sincere person I'd ever met."
"He had a blasé attitude toward death," her message, as read by music publicist Heather West, continued. "It didn't interest him."
Chief among his interests was music, and he was good at it, Chilton was often described as a genius, and his songs resonated even when he wasn't there to play them.
Lerche sounded startlingly like Chilton on 'The Ballad of El Goodo,' and Mills looked genuinely moved as he sang Chilton's part on 'Jesus Christ.' After a false start, Prophet nailed 'Thank You Friends,' with Auer and Stringfellow singing backing vocals. Doe contributed a subtle, aching version of 'I'm in Love With a Girl,' joining Auer and Stringfellow in three-part harmony as Stephens clapped quietly along behind the drum kit and blinked rapidly as if to stave off tears.
Not all the songs had guests: Auer, Stringfellow and Stephens performed as a trio, too, with Auer and Stringfellow singing shattering harmonies on 'Thirteen,' Stringfellow taking the lead on 'Feel' and Stephens singing 'Just For You.' Hummel first joined them on 'Way Out West,' which Stephens also sang.
They ended the show with a loose version of 'September Gurls' as Cowsill and the Watson Twins traded verses with Auer. Mills joined in on harmony vocals and Hummel took over for Stringfellow on bass.
Alex Chilton on AOL Music
Big Star on AOL Music