Alex Chilton - Don't Tell A Soul
By John Saleeby
We should be used to dead Rock Stars by now - If it can happen to Elvis and two of The Beatles it can certainly happen to a bunch of nincompoops like Kurt Cobain, Ron Ashton, and some guy from Boston. The band Boston, I mean - Not the city. No way can anybody from Aerosmith or The Cars die, right? Oh, the Singer from The Cars did die - Damn! At least it wasn't suicide like the Singer from Boston. The band Boston, I mean. How about the Singer from Aerosmith? He's done everything to mess things up but commit suicide! But I was genuinely upset by Alex Chilton's death. Not enough to keep from making stupid jokes about that guy from Boston (The band), but still pretty upset. Alex Chilton was different from those other Rock Stars - For one thing, he never got to be a Rock Star! Alex Chilton was every bit as great as Elvis and any ol' Beatle but never even got to be as big a Rock Star as Kurt Cobain, Ron Ashton, and anybody from Boston - The Cars, Aerosmith, the fucking Kennedys . . . Alex Chilton was THE BEST!
For those of you who don't know anything about him, Alex Chilton was the leader of The Space Heaters, the legendary Sixties Rock Band from Pittsburgh which recorded three classic albums - "That Girl Is Fine" (1966), "Let's Go To Hollywood" (1967), and "They Said She Was Trouble" (1968) - and then split up after achieving little success. Alex then spent a lot of time in England doing uncredited writing, singing, and guitar playing on records by artists like Mott The Hoople, The Bay City Rollers, and The Electric Light Orchestra before returning to the USA where he wrote all of the songs and played all of the guitars on the first three Kiss albums and released a series of brilliant albums in a wide variety of styles - Blues ("I Got No Fuss With You"), Jazz ("A Drink For The Lady"), and Punk ("This World Ain't Nuthin'") - none of which recieved the kind of attention they deserved. When Paul Westerberg wrote The Replacement's "Alex Chilton" ("Alex Chilton is one rockin' son of a bitch, Alex Chilton really ought to be rich") Chilton was so embarassed he went into seclusion for the next fifteen years but came back to spend the final decade of his Life touring all over the World, recording fourteen brilliant albums, and even trying his hand at Fiction with his delightful Comic Novel "Wil The Weasel" until his recent death at the age of fifty eight in San Diego, California.
Those of you who already knew something about Alex Chilton are probably confused and annoyed by now - Kind of like the first time you heard "Like Flies On Sherbert"! Ha ha ha! There's the kind of hipster gag you thought you were in for when you started reading an Acid Logic article about Alex Chilton! But what about the people who don't know about "Like Flies On Sherbert"? Isn't it my obligation as an Alex Chilton fan to "turn them on" to "Like Flies On Sherbert"? No.
I've spent more than enough time in my Life talking to people about Alex Chilton and "Like Flies On Sherbert" and what did I get for it? A bunch of knuckleheads looking back at me as blankfaced as if I was talking about Louis-Ferdinand Celine and "Death On The Installment Plan", that's what I got. Now, I'm no fool, you've got to expect that kind of Neanderfuck response when you talk about an autobiographical novel by some French guy who died so long ago his funeral is right there in the second chapter, but when talking about a Bad Ass Rock And Roll Record that will have any Stones fan with half a brain throwing "Emotional Rescue" CDs at the neighbor's cat it is just insulting.
Anybody who never bought an Alex Chilton record before he died can just keep on going right ahead without him. Bad enough his death got so much media coverage that any day now somebody like Bon Jovi will be coming out with a godawful cover of one of Chilton's best songs that will leave us never wanting to hear the original again. There's a good reason I'm not mentioning the titles of any of Chilton's best songs in this article. I already suspect Jon Bon Jovi reads my stuff looking for ideas - How else do you think a dullard like that could come up with something as hilarious as "Living On A Prayer"?
There might have been some point in encouraging people to buy Chilton's records while he was still alive and trying to make a buck, but now that he's dead? I don't believe in an Afterlife in which dead Rock Stars keep track of how many units they're still pushing . . .
John Lennon: Hey, Alex Chilton! I sold sixty seven thousand CDs today! Know how many you sold?
What about Chilton's Wife and kids, you ask? Well, if that's going to be an issue maybe the guy should have tried to be a little commercial. The records might not have been quite as good but at least his Family might have a little money after he passed away. Don't ask me about anybody's Wife and kids, I just lose interest. I somehow doubt that paying the bills is a new problem to Missus Chilton. How old is she, anyway? I bet she's hot. How old are the kids? Any daughters? Hey, in times of loss we all turn to each other for a little comfort! At least I'm not another one of those sleazy guitar players!
And no more Alex Chilton stories. Like all Legends, most of the stories you hear about Chilton are bunk. Like the one about when The Replacements were in New Orleans and Paul Westerberg arranged to meet Chilton for the first time at a local dive that afternoon. Westerberg walked into the nearly empty place, asked the bum sweeping the floor if he had seen Alex Chilton around and the guy with the broom was . . . Alex Chilton!?! BOOIIINNNGGG!!! In reality the guy wasn't Alex Chilton at all - He was Dewey Jefferson, Notorious Local Dipshit, and Westerberg didn't catch on until after taking Dewey out to ever bar in town and spending all his money on beer, whiskey, and pickled eggs. Ha ha! Stupid Paul Westerberg! Stay outta New Orleans, ya Minnesota hick! And we all know the story about how Alex Chilton bottomed out so badly he wound up washing dishes in New Orleans. That sounds bad, but what you don't realise is that resteraunts are such Big Business in New Orleans that Dishwashers make the kind of money that Scriptwriters make in Los Angeles. You think Alex Chilton was good at playing Music? You should have seen him when he was up to his elbows in a sink full of soap suds and dirty dishes! Damn! If he had done that onstage nobody would have given Hendrix and all that cornball smashing up guitars and setting them on fire a moment's notice. Gene Simmons knocked everybody out puking blood and breathing fire with Kiss but when he tried washing dishes Ace Frehley was like "Dude, dried up tomato sauce! Give it up!" Alex Chilton never made a lot of money playing Music but if he had stuck with dish washing he would have had a bigger house than Elton John. I bet Elton John has a dishwasher in his house. A machine, I mean. Not a guy. He has a guy in his house, but not to wash dishes. I don't want to talk about it.
Forget all that! After Alex Chilton worked his ass off in a World where a great big ol' piece o' nuthin' like Bruce Springsteen is The King Of Rock And Roll I don't ever want to go on line and find out that the "Alex Chilton Tribute" CD featuring Green Day and Miley Cyrus has sold four million copies and Ron Howard is Directing "Like Flies On Sherbert - The Alex Chilton Story" starring John Mayer as Alex. I don't want those people to know anything about Alex Chilton and his Music. If you want The Best Things In Life you've got to pass up what's right under your nose and hold out for something a little bit better. Those slobs were dumb enough to go for Motley Crue and The Red Hot Chili Peppers just like MTV told em to? Fine, they can keep that crap and we'll keep Alex Chilton. They won't notice the difference until they're dead and St. Peter is blocking the Pearly Gates in a Big Star t shirt and telling em "Get outta here with that 'Doctor Feel Goodifornication' shit!"
Yeah, let's keep Alex Chilton a secret. We'll be like the Masons or the Illuminati, only ROCKIN'! We'll turn all his lyrics into scripture, have a secret handshake, meet in the woods late at night to put on robes, sacrifice children and animals . . . Nah, we'll just sacrifice children - It'll be FUN! Just don't tell Paul Westerberg - He'll want to bring his Wife and kids.
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