5 Things You Might Not Know About Alex Chilton
Alex Chilton was the lead singer of The Box Tops, after which he was the lead singer of Big Star. You may know both of those things already, but to celebrate Chiltonâs birthday â which is today, if you hadnât yet worked that out â here are five things about him that may have escaped your attention up to this point.
1. His sister went to high school with Steve Cropper and Donald âDuckâ Dunn.
If you frequent Rhino.com, then you already know those two guysâ names, as theyâre two of the most prolific studio musicians of the â60s and onward. Just being a degree of separation away from those guys could explain why Chilton later admitted that he studied Cropperâs guitar licks and said, âI can do that, thatâs what I want to sound like.â
2. He took guitar lessons from Sid Manker.
While Mankerâs name isnât as immediately recognizable as Cropperâs, heâs got at least one iconic credit to his name, at least as far as guitarists are concerned: he wrote and played lead guitar on âRaunchy.â
3. When The Box Topsâ âThe Letterâ started hurtling up the charts, he was in 10th grade.
Now, to be fair, he was in 10th grade for the second time, having not exactly set the world on fire with his grades the previous year. As such, itâs not entirely a surprise that his parents figured that a year off might do him good, particularly since The Box Tops seemed to be getting bigger all the time. Spoiler alert: he did eventually get his GED.
4. He played CBGBâs during the height of the punk era.
No one really knew what to expect from Chilton when he did a stint at the club, and his opening acts canât have done much to help people figure it out: one night it was The Feelies, another night it was The Dead Boys. As it happens, the shows went down great, with one journalist writing, âAlex Chilton, a veteran of the rock wars, has returned with a presentation and material attuned to todayâs pop-hungry audience. With proper exposure, he should capitalize on the mid-â60s pop renaissance thatâs burgeoning in local scenes around America.â
5. The Bangles reportedly wrote him a personal check for âSeptember Gurlsâ royalties.
The key word here is âreportedly,â but thatâs the story, anyway: the members of the band had met him after releasing their cover of the Big Star classic, and when they heard that he hadnât gotten any royalties yet, they supposedly cut him a check for $16,000. True or not, he did eventually get a proper royalty check, and letâs just say that it was for a not-insubstantial amount.
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