Alex Chilton Memorial Gig At SXSW To Feature M. Ward, R.E.M.'s Mike Mills
Big Star's Jody Stephens said he felt "a little numb" in the wake of the death of bandmate Alex Chilton but said the show -- and panel discussion -- should go on at this week's South By Southwest Music Festival + Conference.
"Y'know, it's a way of including people and sharing thoughts and feelings," Stephens told Billboard.com on Thursday, the day after Chilton passed away in New Orleans from a presumed heart attack. "Music's about that. It's not about excluding people. There are a lot of folks here in Austin at the moment that kind of share those thoughts and feelings; what a great way to remember Alex through stories in the panel, and that evening through music."
Stephens said he and current Big Star members Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer will "house band" for Saturday night's previously scheduled Big Star show at Antone's. Original Big Star bassist Andy Hummel is also in town to take part in a panel discussion at the Austin Convention Center that afternoon and will likely take part in the show, and Stephens said M. Ward, John Doe, Chris Stamey and R.E.M.'s Mike Mills are among the guests who have signed on for the concert.
"It'll be just a cool way for us to all share that music Alex was part of," said Stephens. "Certainly where Alex and I connected over the years was through music, either in the studio or on stage, so I think that's a great way for us all to tip our hats to Alex and celebrate his life."
Stephens said he's also grateful for the outporing of support that's greeted Chilton's death. "I'm grateful people care and are interested. There are 50 million bands out there and it's always hard to get attention because there's so much competition. So I'm always greatful when people are interested in Big Star and are talking about it."
"I ran into somebody who said, 'Y'know, I've seen three bands play today, and each one of them played a Big Star song. I thought, wow, what a wonderful way to remember someone."
Stephens -- who planned to sit in with Star and Micey, a group on his Ardent Records label, Thursday night at the Memphis Music Foundation showcase -- said Chilton's funeral arrangements are incomplete and being overseen by his sister, Celia.
As for Big Star continuing in any capacity without Chilton, Stephens said, "I can't imagine that, to tell you the truth. Alex was the heart of it. Maybe Jon and Ken and I can do something together, but now's not the time to think about it."