Box Tops star Alex Chilton dies
American singer and guitarist Alex Chilton, known for his influential work with the Box Tops and Big Star bands, has died aged 59.
Family friend John Fry said Chilton died on Wednesday at a hospital in New Orleans after experiencing what appeared to be heart problems.
Mr Fry, the owner of Memphis-based Ardent Studios, said the death "was just a sudden and unexpected event".
Chilton had been scheduled to perform with Big Star on Saturday at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas.
The festival's creative director, Brent Grulke, said Chilton's gift for melody was second to none.
As the teenage singer for the pop-soul outfit the Box Tops, Chilton topped the charts with The Letter in 1967. The band's other hits were Soul Deep and Cry Like A Baby.
His work with Big Star had less mainstream success but made him a cult hero to other musicians, as evidenced by the title of the 1987 Replacements song, Alex Chilton. Big Star's three 1970s LPs all earned spots on Rolling Stone magazine's list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Chilton said in a 1987 interview that did not mind flying under the radar.
"What would be ideal would be to make a ton of money and have nobody know about you," he said. "Fame has a lot of baggage to carry around. I wouldn't want to be like Bruce Springsteen. I don't need that much money and wouldn't want to have 20 bodyguards following me.
"If I did become really popular, the critics probably wouldn't like me all that much," he said. "They like to root for the underdog."