Big Star

Formed 1971. Disbanded 15 May 2010.
Big Star

Biography

Big Star was an American rock band formed in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1971 by Alex Chilton, Chris Bell, Jody Stephens, and Andy Hummel. The group broke up in 1974, but reorganized with a new line-up nearly 20 years later. In its first era, the band's musical style drew on the vocal harmonies of The Beatles, as well as the swaggering rhythms of The Rolling Stones and the jangling guitars of The Byrds. To the resulting power pop, Big Star added dark, existential themes, and produced a style that foreshadowed the alternative rock of the 1980s and 1990s. Before it broke up, Big Star created a "seminal body of work that never stopped inspiring succeeding generations" in the words of Rolling Stone, as the "quintessential American power pop band" and "one of the most mythic and influential cult acts in all of rock & roll".

Big Star's first album—1972's #1 Record—was met by enthusiastic reviews, but ineffective marketing by Stax Records and limited distribution stunted its commercial success. Frustration took its toll on band relations, and by the time a second album was completed in 1974 both Bell and Hummel had left the group. Like #1 Record, Radio City received excellent reviews, but label issues again thwarted sales—Columbia Records, which had assumed control of the Stax catalog, likewise effectively vetoed its distribution. After a third album was deemed non-commercially viable and shelved before receiving a title, the band broke up late in 1974. Four years later, the first two Big Star LPs were released together as a double album. The band's third album was finally issued soon afterward; entitled Third/Sister Lovers, it found limited commercial success. Shortly thereafter, Chris Bell was killed in a car accident at the age of 27.

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