Courtesy Magnolia Pictures
Big Star in a big field.
The above video is a TV performance of "The Letter," by the Box Tops. It was one of the most popular songs of 1967. The singer is 16 year old Alex Chilton, and for most people, this was the first and last time they'd hear from him. But it wasn't the end of his career. Chilton went on to join Big Star--one of the most important and most ignored bands in rock and roll's history.
In 1971, Chilton, along with singer and guitarist Chris Bell, bassist Andy Hummel, and drummer Jody Stephens recorded "Number 1 Record" - Big Star's debut album. As with the other two albums Big Star would release, Number 1 Record did not hit number 1 on the charts. It sold just ten-thousand copies when it was released in 1972. But like rest of Big Star's repertoire, critics loved it and fans grew to embrace it.
Today, drummer Jody Stephens is the only surviving band member from that session. Chris Ziegler, editor in chief of L.A. Record, talked with Stephens about Big Star and about Nothing Can Hurt Me, a documentary on the band that opens at Santa Monica's Nuart Theatre Friday, July 5. Watch the trailer: