Video Fridays: R.I.P., Alex Chilton

I learned yesterday of the passing, at age 59, of Alex Chilton (The Box Tops, Big Star, extensive solo career), so I couldn’t think of a better subject for today’s Video Fridays installment.

That he died so relatively young seems simultaneously sad, fitting, and even ironic.

Sad: Well, he was young, especially when you consider how many old rockers from the 60s and 70s continue to record and perform.

Fitting: Well, he was a Rock & Roller, so many have died young, better to burn out than fade away and all that.

Ironic: And yet, despite having died young, Chilton accomplished a hell of a lot in his 59 years. He had a #1 hit single, The Letter (see below), at the age of 16, was a member of two important bands in Rock & Roll history, and was was a prototypical indie musician. In fact, Chilton had become a kind of legend in the indie music scene, where his music was named as highly influential by many groups, and where he regularly collaborated with younger artists.

Another irony: While I love the Box Tops’ version of The Letter, I’ve always loved the Joe Cocker version from Mad Dogs & Englishmen better. However, recently a band I’m in has decided to play The Letter, and my preference for the Cocker version was out-voted 3 to 1.

So, here it is, and I’ve gotta say that this video seriously cracks me up. I’ve always found lip sync TV appearances from this era painful, but Alex and the gang, particularly the keyboard player, decide to not take it seriously and they just seem to have fun.

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