Thursday, March 18, 2010

Charlie Gillett RIP & now Alex Chilton

Charlie Gillett's death aged 68 has saddened all lovers of rock and roll and roots music in the UK. His books Sound of the City and Making Tracks were among the very best about the music of the second half of the 20th century and I read them avidly when they came out, returning to them again and again. His radio shows and promotion of New Orleans, Cajun and world music over the years played a central role in bringing new acts and different styles of music to the public and his influence was immeasurable.
I won't attempt to write his obituary as there will be many people far better able than me to do so. Here is one of the first - from the Guardian

One of Charlie's most important ventures was the creation of Oval Records and there's an in-depth interview with Charlie on this on Youtube I remember buying a second hand copy of Tommy McLain's Before I Grow Too Old at a car boot sale some years ago and on the sleeve is a hand written note from Charlie to 'Denis' at Radio 2 saying 'We think we have a Radio Two anthem here - hope you agree.' How true!
And now I hear that Alex Chilton has died aged 59. He made it big in Memphis at the age of just 16 as lead singer of the Box Tops with The Letter and under the guidance of Chips Moman recorded a wonderful string of Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham songs. In the 70s he continued his success with Big Star and as a solo performer and moved to New Orleans in the 80s. One of my top 20 spine tingling music moments took place in 1999 when Alex and the Box Tops reformed and played a free gig at the foot of the World Trade Centre in New York (thevinylword, Feb 1, 2008). A great singer and another great loss.


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