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A man called destruction: the life and music of Alex Chilton, from Box Tops to Big Star to backdoor man

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A brilliant songwriter, virtuosic vocalist, and accomplished guitarist, the charismatic Alex Chilton was not only a bona fide rock star but perhaps the ultimate cult icon - one whose death on March 17, 2010, brought tributes from the New York Times to the House of Representatives. Chilton's career began with the 1967 hit 'The Letter,' on which the sixteen-year-old singer sang in a raspy baritone and created one of the epochal recordings of the era. But rather than following the usual rags-to-riches trajectory, Chilton worked his way downward; after stints in the chart-topping Box Tops and critically acclaimed, pioneering Big Star, he spent a decade experimenting with punk and roots music, eventually stepping away from his career and taking menial jobs as a dishwasher, janitor, and tree trimmer in New Orleans. By the mid-'90s, however, he rose again as an influential solo artist, producer, and trendsetter, with any number of indie bands laying claim to his legacy.

Award-winning journalist Holly George-Warren's A Man Called Destruction is the first biography of Chilton and a revelatory portrait of this extraordinary artist. Chilton had an unusual upbringing as a well-born Memphis 'art brat,' the son of a jazz musician father and art dealer mother, but shadows hung over a life that seemed outwardly charmed. 'The Letter' brought him instant fame followed by six Top 40 hits, yet the ever-restless Chilton left the Box Tops in 1970, spent a year in New York honing his craft as a songwriter, and eventually joined seminal power-pop band Big Star. Despite classic tracks like 'September Gurls,' 'In the Street,' and 'Thirteen,' commercial success eluded the group, although artists such as R.E.M., Wilco, the Replacements, and Counting Crows widely cite Chilton and Big Star as inspirations.

Following Big Star's flameout, Chilton's solo career found him drifting through New York City's punk scene, recording 'Bangkok' and producing the Cramps. After recording the shambolic Like Flies on Sherbert , he eventually landed in New Orleans. There, after a period of abstinence and manual labor, he experienced an artistic rebirth. Chilton not only began recording and writing again, developing a new devoted fan base, but be began touring, ultimately reuniting with both Big Star and the Box Tops in the 1990s.

A Man Called Destruction is both the story of an extraordinary musician and a richly detailed chronicle of pop music's evolution from the mid-1960s through indie rock, in which Alex Chilton will always play a central role.

Advance praise for A Man Called Destruction

'The immensely gifted and highly influential musician Alex Chilton has long deserved a big biography. Holly George-Warren's meticulously researched and beautifully written book shows us Chilton in all his mysterious glory. A Man Called Destruction gets to the heart of the man by focusing on the music he made (and the music that made him) with great precision and authority. I loved reading this sensitive, sympathetic, and intelligent portrait of a complicated and important figure.' Dana Spiotta, author of Stone Arabia

'This book is the very definition of a labor of love. Every page of it is infused with Holly George-Warren's affection for a deep understanding of Alex Chilton and his ground-breaking work. Even its most candid moments are presented with empathy and a profound respect. Chilton could be thorny and difficult - he is fortunate to have found a biographer eager to untangle the knots of his character and to find the sweet heart beating within.' Anthony DeCurtis, contributing editor, Rolling Stone

'More than just the tale of a hugely talented, influential, and undervalued rock & roll singer-songwriter, this book is about how fame's vagaries mess wi

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Grouping Information

Grouped Work ID 13e1f367-8ae9-95ec-18f2-a18e8e6eba32
Grouping Title man called destruction the life and music of alex chilton from box tops to big star to backdoor man
Grouping Author george warren holly
Grouping Category book
Last Grouping Update 2018-11-18 23:28:41PM
Last Indexed 2018-11-19 00:33:23AM

Solr Details

accelerated_reader_point_value 0
accelerated_reader_reading_level 0
author George-Warren, Holly.
author_display George-Warren, Holly
available_at_catalog Green Hills, Green Hills Kids
collection_catalog Biography
detailed_location_catalog Green Hills - Adult Biography
display_description Alex Chilton's story is rags to riches in reverse, beginning with teenage rock stardom and heading downward. Following stints leading 60s sensation the Box Tops ("The Letter") and pioneering 70s popsters Big Star, Chilton became a dishwasher. Yet he rose again in the 80s as a solo artist, producer, and trendsetter, coinventing the indie-rock genre. By the 90s, acolytes from R.E.M. to Jeff Buckley embodied Chilton's legacy, ushering him back to the spotlight before his untimely death in 2010. In this career-spanning and revelatory biography, longtime Chilton acquaintance Holly George-Warren has interviewed more than 100 bandmates, friends, and family members to flesh out a man who presided over--and influenced--four decades of American musical history, rendered here with new perspective through the adventures of a true iconoclast.--From publisher description.
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id 13e1f367-8ae9-95ec-18f2-a18e8e6eba32
isbn 9780670025633, 9780698151420
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literary_form Non Fiction
literary_form_full Non Fiction
local_callnumber_catalog B C5382g
owning_library_catalog Nashville Public Library
owning_location_catalog Green Hills, Green Hills Kids
primary_isbn 9780670025633
publishDate 2014
record_details ils:CARL0000430296|Book|Books||English|Viking,|2014.|x, 370 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm., overdrive:b5f484fb-6576-4f0f-88aa-548e06597d0a|eBook|eBook||English|Penguin Publishing Group|2014|
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subject_facet Chilton, Alex, Rock musicians -- United States -- Biography
title_display A man called destruction : the life and music of Alex Chilton, from Box Tops to Big Star to backdoor man
title_full A Man Called Destruction The Life and Music of Alex Chilton, from Box Tops to Big Star to Backdoor Man, A man called destruction : the life and music of Alex Chilton, from Box Tops to Big Star to backdoor man / Holly George-Warren
title_short A man called destruction :
title_sub the life and music of Alex Chilton, from Box Tops to Big Star to backdoor man
topic_facet Biography & Autobiography, Chilton, Alex, Music, Nonfiction, Rock musicians