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Big Star: The Short Life, Painful Death, and Unexpected Resurrection of the Kings of Power Pop

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  184 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
The formation, music, and break-up of Big Star, a band that for many was the embodiment of the 1970s, is detailed in this definitive history. Even though Big Star was together for less than four years and had limited commercial success, the legacy of their three groundbreaking albums has influenced artists as diverse as R.E.M., the Bangles, Wilco, Jeff Buckley, and Garbage ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published September 28th 2005 by Chicago Review Press (first published November 1st 2004)
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Jun 29, 2013 Tosh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In one word to describe the band Big Star: Iconic. Like the Velvet Underground, Ziggy Stardust, and the early to mid Kinks, the work is faultless. Big Star is part of that grouping due that they made music at a specific time in a special city that's Memphis. To make such perfect noise in the Memphis landscape is quite remarkable. Does that genius come through the Memphis tap water? Sun Records, Stax, and then Big Star.

Rob Jovanovic did a great job with respect to research and capturing what mak
Oct 12, 2012 Kiof rated it really liked it
Shockingly bleak bio of a band that it is at least superficially considered a little happy-go-lucky. Bell and Chilton do not come out unscathed- they both seem like total nuts, while Hummel and Stephens seem to be the epitome of normal guys. After reading the book, Chilton's post-Flies (which is a great record, I don't care what ya think.) music makes more sense. The philosophy of that 80-2000's music was: cynical about big meanings, appreciative of very small, simple things. Those ideas might n ...more
Warren Truitt
Apr 24, 2008 Warren Truitt rated it liked it
Shelves: music
An OK bio, not that informative, but when there's next to nothing out there about a band you like, you gotta take what you can get.
May 31, 2010 Clay rated it liked it
The story of one of my favorite obscure bands. Lots of great info, interviews, tidbits, etc., but poorly written and organized.
Nov 02, 2013 Meagan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here's how ephemeral Big Star is. (Was.) In a 273-page book, the band gets together on page 81 and is broken up by page 183, roughly. (The original line-up even before that.) But, much like the Velvet Underground, the impact of their three(ish) albums was immense. This band is very close to my heart, so it's kind of impossible for me to be objective about this book, but, really, it's a great read if you're at all a fan, or even if you've only heard the 70s Show theme song or the Jeff Buckley Kan ...more
Sep 15, 2010 Tiffany rated it really liked it
Shelves: music, bio_autobio
Big Star has been such an influence to so many musicians since the 1970s, but the general population doesn't know who they were. The band's history was a lot of "wrong place, wrong time" and a lot of Murphy's Law. The band and its albums received critical acclaim, but that didn't make it to the rest of the people, due mostly to bad distribution of their albums. The rock press gushed about how great the music was, but when people went to buy the albums, they couldn't find them in stores. Jody Ste ...more
Jul 01, 2015 Andrew rated it really liked it
A pretty in depth look at Big Star, a group famous for not being famous. You know their songs, whether you are aware of it or not. Although it is easy to see the writer is a fan, he doesn’t gloss over the warts. Alex Chilton was apparently a very difficult man, which really isn’t surprising. I liked that the history of the Box Tops (famous for “The Letter,” Chilton’s big break at 16) was included. Although I wish there was a little more information on Icewater, Chris Bell’s other group. I also w ...more
Dec 07, 2015 Linda rated it it was amazing
I had already read Alex Chilton: A Man Called Destruction so this book on Big Star -- this was the perfect follow up! Fine detailed account of an under appreciated band
May 04, 2015 James rated it really liked it
After reading the Alex Chilton bio and pouring thru their catalog, this was a good read to fill in the holes - especially the later revival of interest in the band. Thorough but I can always use more pics.
Sep 30, 2008 Terri rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of Big Star or any power-pop band
A very well documented look at the individual members of Big Star and how the band came to be, as well as lots of crazy shenanigans in Memphis in the early 70s. I'd always heard Alex Chilton was pretty arrogant and unfriendly, but the stories from this book make him seem 10 times worse! Interesting how such a character was so influential to musicians years later. I'm listening to their albums again with a new ear now having learned more about some of the subject matter.
Big Star - "a history of things pretty much working out." Though the book is more of a dry chronology with trivia thrown in than an engaging biography, there really isn't that much drama or intrigue in the Big Star story. A bunch of guys get together, make a few records to mild success, then disband amicably. Later, one of the guys dies. The end!
Aug 04, 2012 Paul rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memphis, music
All of the musical roads of power pop and alternative lead back to Alex Chilton, Chris Bell, Andy Hummel and Jody Stephens. Jovanovic deftly reconstructs the history of Big Star and provides insights no other author ever could... or ever will... since three of the original members are now gone.

Highly recommended.
Ed Wagemann
Jul 24, 2010 Ed Wagemann rated it liked it
The subject amtter of this book had alot of potential. I think Jovanovic could have gone deeper in describing the music scene and record producing scene around Memphis, TN during the rise and fall of Big Star during the late 1960s to mid 1970s. But I enjoyed reading it none the less.
Phil Overeem
Dec 20, 2011 Phil Overeem rated it liked it
Begins poorly, ends awkwardly, but in between tells an interesting story of some classic weird Memphians. Glad I stuck with it; it passed the general "good" test by motivating me to listen to its subject further.
Jul 21, 2010 Libby rated it it was amazing
Pretty freakin' comprehensive as I recall. Plan to re-visit the book this summer in light of the recent passings of Andy Hummel and Alex Chilton.
Dec 21, 2010 Lamont rated it it was amazing
Wonderfully written. Well researched. Wouldn't have minded had it been much, much longer.
Feb 09, 2008 Jeter marked it as to-read
i will read anything that has to do with the greatest band that ever existed.
Mar 15, 2009 Brian rated it liked it
1) chris bell RIP was probably gay
2) alex chilton is an asshole
May 24, 2012 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
fulfilled my music nerd expectations!
Sep 28, 2013 Neil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Big Star... YES!!!
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