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Heaven done called another Rock and Roller back home

Tag(s): Reflections and rants and Show host blog

I'm flying somewhere over Memphis right now, taking advantage of a wireless connection on a flight to Virginia. As plenty of you already know, Alex Chilton, a musician whose "quiet as thunder" impact on the rock and indie music scene is beyond measure, passed away yesterday at the age of 59. I met him in 2006 at a gathering of people who were remembering the passing of another strong force on the local scene, Keith Keller.

And it was only a few days ago, while sitting in on Missy Bowen's show that I played a cut, I Remember Mama, from Alex Chilton's album, Set:

"I remember mama in a happy way
We went to school with holes in our shoes
We didn't have much but the lord saw us through
Mama kept the family together

I remember mama in a happy way
She packed our lunch in an old greasy bag
It might've seemed empty,
But it was more than others had
It had a lot of love way down deep inside and
I remember mama in a happy way

Now mama is sleeping in the bosom of jesus christ
Somehow i know she's smiling, she's smiling on us right now
One day i'll see her again, how happy i will be
And i remember mama in a happy way

My brothers and sisters, they're living far apart
Although my mama's gone, she's right here in our hearts
We're all gonna pull together and stay in the holy place
I remember mama in a happy way
I remember mama, i remember mama in a happy way."

On this cut, he was able to take a gospel favorite and make the song rock its ass off.

His own music, whether solo or with bands (Box Tops / Big Star) can be heard on everything from "The 70's show" to Cheap Trick to Jeff Buckley and This Mortal Coil. And he made his home right here in New Orleans, played music on the road, smoked cigarettes in between visits to the New Orleans Athletic Club. He turned ideas on their head and, from what I remember that one day, spoke sincerely with a cynical charm, whether you liked his answer or not.

Over the coming weeks, no doubt there will be music of his on the airwaves, blogs reflecting on his impact (hell, here's one...) and conversations aplenty about this man. (I just had one with a friend of his at a coffee shop.)

Just look up his name on the world wild web. Expect a moment where you say: "oh, yeah - that's him?"

I'd bet a whole week's allowance that you've already encountered him on a jukebox, television or radio, not to mention all the bands heavily influenced by his spirit.

It is sad to see a man go at such a young age, all we can do rock and roll our way through this. I promise to dedicate a decent part of my next show (March 24, 11am to 2pm) to his legacy and welcome any requests in his memory. (wwozdj@gmail.com)

Alex Chilton on 120 Minutes in New Orleans

Comments

A true legend and brilliant

A true legend and brilliant complex creative man. Yo George, get some of that Big Star and Like Flies For Sherbert on there!

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