Fan Fare

Entertainment behind the scenes

Alex Chilton, 1950-2010

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Alex ChiltonTo most, Alex Chilton’s was the gruff soulful voice that grabbed you by the throat in “The Letter.” Less than two minutes long, the song by the Box Tops was pure confection: Chips Moman’s rhythm section laying the foundation,  Memphis horns punctuating the chorus and the cheesy jet sound effects made the song a chart-topping hit in 1967. Chilton was 16 years old.

Fed up with being a pretty face in the pop music grist mill, he left the band in 1970. When he returned with Big Star in 1972, he traded in the R&B for Beatles-style pop with a harder, driving beat. His voice had jumped nearly an octave. He and his friend Chris Bell penned eloquent elegies of teen angst, exuding hopelessness and defiance, often in the same breath.

Big Star made three albums, “#1 Record,” “Radio City” and “Third/Sister Lovers.” Barely anyone bought them. But as Brian Eno once said of the Velvet Underground, everyone who heard them formed a band. R.E.M., Cheap Trick, Teenage Fanclub, Wilco, the dBs and the Replacements are only a few examples.

After Big Star broke up in the mid-seventies, he recorded sporadically as a solo artist and toured relentlessly. His solo material was raw, offhand and sometimes barely listenable. But at their center, he displayed himself as an eccentric music fan inspired by Otis Redding as much as John Lennon.

Socialite Casey Johnson, girlfriend of Tila Tequila, dies in Los Angeles

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Johnson & Johnson heiress Casey Johnson, the girlfriend of bisexual reality TV starlet Tila Tequila died at her home in Los Angeles, the police said on Monday. She was 30. 

casey“Our officers conducted a preliminary investigation which appears to be an apparent natural death,” said Los Angeles Police Department Officer Sara Faden. “There was no evidence of any foul play and the case is now being handled by the coroner’s, pending a toxicology report.”

Summer ’09: A Hollywood Requiem

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Every year in Hollywood when the long, hot days of summer set in, some story comes along to shakeMichael Jackson up the media, and reporters seem to bite into it like a dog with a bone. Absent anything else going on in town, that story is becomes the tale of Hollywood’s summer.

So far, early in this summer of 2009,  the story has been celebrity deaths. When Karl Malden died yesterday, he was added to a growing list of celebrities who either died after long illnesses or suddenly, topped off by the King of Pop himself Michael Jackson.

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