David Fricke Interviews Jody Stephens for Rolling Stone
Pictured above are Jody Stephens and Rolling Stone Senior Editor David Fricke. Fricke has been a champion of Big Star for years, and interviewed Jody recently about the death of Alex Chilton and the upcoming tribute show to take place right here at Memphis’ Levitt Shell (tickets available here) on May 15th, 2010. From the interview:
On May 15th, the surviving members of the reunion edition of pop cult legends Big Star – original drummer Jody Stephens and singer-guitarists Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer of the Posies — will play one more show: a homecoming at Levitt Shell in Memphis, Big Star’s hometown. Their performance will be a tribute to late singer Alex Chilton, who died on March 17th. Like the all-star salute held in Chilton’s memory the weekend after his passing at SXSW in Austin, Texas, the Memphis concert will feature friends and guests singing with Big Star, revisiting songs from the band’s three classic Seventies albums. But Stringfellow told me, during the interviews for my recent tribute story on Chilton, that the show “should reflect more than the Big Star years,”¬ referring to Chilton’s early hits with the Box Tops and his later, eccentric solo material. “Alex would turn over in his grave if every memorial was intensely focused on Big Star. Now’s the time to put it all out there.”
Stephens admitted to me that this would be the final Big Star show, although not his last with Auer and Stringfellow. “I can’t see us going out as Big Star,” Stephens said. “But I would hate to compound the loss of Alex by saying,’That’s it’ for Ken and Jon, too. I can’t imagine not playing with them. There’s so much fun — but an emotional bond there too.”
In an interview for that Chilton tribute, Stephens spoke at length, fondly and frankly, about his time in the original Big Star — with Chilton, bassist Andy Hummel and singer-guitarist Chris Bell — in the early Seventies and with Chilton in the resurrection version with Auer and Stringfellow, from their first show together in 1993 until what turned out to be their last, in Brooklyn last November. Here are unpublished outtakes from that conversation.
The Big Star Box Set, Keep an Eye on the Sky, is available through Amazon.com.
The Deluxe Edition of Chris Bell’s I Am the Cosmos is available through Rhino Handmade’s site.