Big Star founders (from left) Chris Bell, Jody Stephens, Andy Hummel and Alex Chilton are pictured in Memphis in 1972.
Ardent Studios in Memphis, Tenn., is calling on the community and Big Star fans worldwide to support a benefit auction for the family of Big Star founding member Alex Chilton, who died three days before the band’s reunion concert on March 20, 2010. Supporters are now bidding on a one-of-a-kind St. Blues guitar from that night. When the eBay auction ends on October 3, 2010 at 11:05 a.m. Pacific Time, all of the money for the guitar will be donated to Chilton’s surviving family.
Chilton was a prolific songwriter and musician. His years with Big Star produced four studio albums that were recorded at Ardent Studios, three of which have been listed in Rolling Stone magazine’s Greatest 500 Albums of All Time.
Chilton had been scheduled to play a concert with Big Star at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas. The show instead took place as a tribute to Chilton, with guests Curt Kirkwood, Chris Stamey, M. Ward, Mike Mills, John Doe, Sondre Lerche, Chuck Prophet, Evan Dando and original member Andy Hummel joining the other members of Big Star.
Shortly afterward in Memphis, many friends, family, and fans gathered for the season opening of Memphis’ historic Overton Park Shell, now called Levitt Shell. This special kickoff concert was a homecoming performance for Memphis’ Big Star.
The Big Star lineup that night comprised original member Jody Stephens with Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer. They were joined throughout the night by special guests Mike Mills of R.E.M., Brendan Benson of The Raconteurs, Sondre Lerche, Amy Speace, Susan Marshall, Jimmy Stephens (Jody’s brother), and John Davis of Superdrag. Backstage, St. Blues Guitars of Memphis had all the performers sign a Bluesmaster guitar to auction later to raise money for Alex Chilton’s wife, Laura.