Thursday, March 18, 2010


I never knew Alex but met him several times over the years. The first of those was in The Blue Lagoon chip shop at the top of Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow. I think, toward the ends of the 80’s when BMX Bandits opened for him at Glasgow Tech, it’s pretty hazy. Over the years, he developed a very strong connection with Scotland where ostensibly his career was rebooted by a bunch of guys from Bellshill known as Teenage Fanclub. Sometimes, if asked what my favourite Big Star record is, I’ll answer “Bandwagonesque”. Just to potentially rile the person who poses the question. More often than not though, it just gets a laugh.

This is sad news indeed for fans of undiluted music everywhere. There goes another of those “real” artists that they just don’t make anymore. On the times that I met him he was very nice, charming even. He could also be a “wee shite” and I certainly witnessed that though I wasn’t on the receiving end. Davie Scott does a stunning Alex impression that beautifully captures the playful malevolence of the subject.

Alex did two of the most amazing shows I’ve ever seen in my life. One, with TFC at the old 13th Note in Glassford Street. It was 1996 and doubly memorable because it was right after our first visit to Stockholm for The Nomads 15th Anniversary when we actually met the gang for the first time. Fiona and Gary picked Avy and I up at the airport and we went directly to the show. Hurry, hurrying and in the throes of going loco. If I close my eyes, I can still hear the apocalyptic version of “Telstar” that the Fanclub and Alx did together. The other was in the relocated, reconstituted 13th Note Club on Clyde Street where the man was in full wind up mode and he, Davie and Francis Macdonald served up a double-fried set that included a systematic deconstruction of “Duke Of Earl” lasting some 8 minutes or so. I think it was prior to this visit that I got a call from Jason McPhail early one morning to say that Mr Chilton was being refused entry to the country at Glasgow airport and did I have any ideas as to how we could get him in. As I recall, Captain Cruickshank came to the rescue citing that he was there to do something for the BBC. In those days you could pull that.

Just a few days ago when in Stockholm, Mr Ulf asked me what year we saw Alex in Berlin. “1990”, I replied and he showed me a bootleg album that could well have been recorded at that very show.

My sincere condolences go out to his many friends, fans and of course family at this time. I’m sure that this has come as a huge, unexpected shock to everybody. If anyone would like to share their memories, I would welcome them here. This guy was another part of the foundations that this thing is built on.

You may also like to look at these photos that Randy posted on facebook and one-time Windbreaker Tim Lee's note from the same resource. I don't know if you have to be on there to view these but I think they're for public consumption. Guess I'll find out soon enough.

5 comments:

Patrick said...

You probably mean that bootleg "Live Im Loft"?

Anonymous said...

So many memories of Alex. That gig looms large for obvious reasons - my longest ever hour in a drum stool. But so much else: great gigs and stories and sing-a-longs. Alex put me in touch John Herald (RIP) and all the things that flowed from that hook up. He put me up for a few days in New Orleans and did a gig there. I cocked up Jan & Dean's "New Girl In School At That One".

One wee story that he told me himself that shows off that wicked sense of humour. He was doing a gig with The Box Tops a few years ago and he was quite disparaging about his fellow musicians.
(*There is a great clip here (thanks Duglas Stewart) that shows him having fun and singing great in more recent times - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_0Wwv-BZwo - but back to the story.)*

Wherever the Box Tops were playing, they were setting up onstage and one of the guys in the band asked Alex where he would like put a piece of equipment or some such thing. Alex said something like "Why are you asking me? It's not my decision". The unwitting fellow Box Top replied, "Sure it - it's your band. You're in charge". To which Alex slowly replied, Oh really? Well in that case - you're fired."

And that's why we loved the twinkly-eyed rascal.

murray said...

http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/obituaries/alex-chilton-an-appreciation-1.1014708

I was with my mate big calum when he played at the lord darnley doing an all covers set and he said this next song is such and such and big calum goes "really ? by ? he was so and so's guitarist" and alex just gave him a withering look "really ? you tell me ?. You read the book." I think the next song he played he said "I dont know anything about this, I heard it on the radio the other day"

The Letter was number one the day that I was born. Which is pretty cool. Unfortunately that was in the US. I've yet to shake hands with Englebert Humperdink who was number one over here ....

Lindsay Hutton said...

I think that you should track him down Murray.

murray said...

I've come to the conclusion that if you stand still in Edinburgh for long enough you end up meeting everyone, I think its inevitable that he'll pop into the citrus club sometime for a quick pint and some perving .....