A few weeks ago, during our last few days in America I was sitting up late playing music to Naomi West. I have always been surprised how even erudite muso types like the Wests were ignorant of some of what (in the UK) the cognoscenti think of as the most seminal American music ever produced. Surely a prophet is without honour blah blah blah. So I played Naomi Scott Walker, Gram Parsons, and above all a little band from Tennessee called Big Star who produced some of the most glorious chiming guitar pop of all time. These (together with Early Times cheap Kentucky Bourbon, and Walmart's own Mesquite barbeque sauce) have given me more pleasure than anything else hailing from the USA (and when you consider how much pleasure Elvis, Richard Hell, Calexico, Paula Frazer and Reece's Peanut Butter Cups have given me, this is against some stiff competition), but Naomi enjoyed it all - especially Big Star.
Why am I writing this?
Well, I wasn't feeling very well last night, and so I went to bed with a copy of Uncut (a music magazine I buy occasionally from Asda). I was shocked to read that the very week I had been introducing the music of Big Star to our dear friend Naomi that their main man Alex Chilton died of a heart attack. The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that their 1993 live album Columbia has been on the bloggo playlist for some days. Again this is pure coincidence, although - as you know - there ain't no such thing.
I had always hoped that Big Star would eventually get the commercial breakthrough that they always deserved. Now, sadly, they never shall.
Today we also say goodbye to Malcolm McLaren who, despite being a manipulative old sod, was one of the pivotal influences on my late adolescence, and Mark Linkous who was the front man of Sparklehorse who (in collaboration with Dangermouse) recorded one of my favourite albums of 2009. Again, unjustifiably obscure, I didn't find out until yesterday that he had shot himself on March 6th.
The world is considerably poorer without these three men.