Singer and guitarist Alex Chilton, known for his influential work with bands the Box Tops and Big Star, has died. He was 59.

Chilton's longtime friend John Fry says that Chilton died Wednesday (March 17) at a hospital in New Orleans after experiencing what appeared to be heart problems.

Fry, the owner of Memphis-based Ardent Studios, says he has spoken to Chilton's wife and that she's very distressed. Fry said: "It was just a sudden and unexpected event."

Chilton had been scheduled to perform with Big Star on Saturday SXSW in Austin, Texas.

The festival's creative director, Brent Grulke, says Chilton's gift for melody was second to none.

"Alex Chilton always messed with your head, charming and amazing you while doing so," says Gulke.

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