Book Review: “A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton, From Box Tops to Big Star to Backdoor Man “

Alex Chilton’s story is rags to riches in reverse, beginning with teenage rock stardom and heading downward. Following stints leading 60s sensation the Box Tops (“The Letter”) and pioneering 70s band Big Star (“the ultimate American pop band”—Time), Chilton became a dishwasher. Yet he rose again in the 80s as a solo artist, producer, and trendsetter, and senior power pop icon ushering him back to the spotlight before his untimely death in 2010.

The full story of Alex Chilton is written by long time acquaintance Holly George-Warren. She has interviewed more than 100 bandmates, friends, and family members to give a full portrait of the reluctant visionary. His early influences are clearly pronounced…”When the Beatles came along, I got swept up in it” Alex recalls, and by 1965 told friends he thought “Brian Wilson was a genius.” Who knew after seeing the Beach Boys concert that year, he’d tour with them 3 years later. Each chapter goes into the details of the formation and acclaim given to The Box Tops and Big Star as well as each albums development. Here is one of my favorite quotes from the book…
 “Soon the phrase “power pop” would enter the rock & roll lexicon (though it had originally been coined by Pete Townshend in the ’60s), with Big Star being hailed as its leading proponent. In Memphis, New York, and the Midwest, particularly bands were forming to emulate the Big Star sound, while their albums became a sort of “Holy Grail,” as R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck would later call them.”

Overall an excellent book that goes through what Alex Chilton was feeling and it doesn’t whitewash the unattractive side of his personality. Between this and the film Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me you get the entire story. On Sale at Amazon