Thursday, May 18, 2006

The night I bugged Alex Chilton

Let me just first preface this entry with a hearty I'm Sorry to Alex Chilton, one of the coolest musicians still roaming this planet. I realize I was being intrusive and invasive to a dude who just wanted to do his job in peace. My incessant demands for an autograph were, in hindsight, really dumb and potentially stalker-ish. I know that now, and you had every right that night to tell me to fuck off. But you didn't, and I did ultimately get the autograph, so thanks, Mr. Chilton.

With that unpleasantry out of the way, it's still somewhat interesting of a story. The great, mighty Alex Chilton was playing at the Double Door, in support of his then-latest CD A Man Called Destruction. Don't ask me which year it was; that was during my lost years, so you'll have to make do with "mid-to-late '90s". I'd already seen Alex Chilton at least once or twice (the first Chicago Big Star gig, then possibly a solo gig at either Schubas or... my mind's soft on the details). So when he came to the Double Door, I had my AMCD cd with me, hoping for a signature. The first time I saw him was at the top of the stairs to the basement of the club. A vaguely familiar guy had a smoke hanging out the corner of his mouth. With temerity, I approached him.

Me: Alex Chilton?
AC: (with a little swagger, a hint of defiance) Yeah?
Me: (offering pen and tray card of the CD) Could you sign my CD?
AC: (dismissively, definite defiance this time) Maybe later.

He strolled away, and I was left there wondering what just happened. However, most people wouldn't have tried again; not this nimrod. I started to try to find alternate ways to procure said autograph. I'd staked out my place near the front of the stage to stand, and spotted a guy who looked and sounded like Quentin Tarantino. For all I know, it could have been QT himself, but for the purposes of this story, that's incidental. I went up to the guy and asked him if he'd ever been compared to the famous film director; he laughed, and told me he got that a lot, yes. Instead of asking him if he was or not (like a normal person would), I told him that if anyone says that tonight, just play along.

I then saw Alex Chilton, and holding out pen and CD, said to him casually:

Me: Did you know you have a celebrity in your audience tonight?
AC: (casually ignoring the offered pen and CD) Yeah, who?
Me: Quentin Tarantino

Alex then walked away snickering, and again I was left wondering what happened.

Needless to say, Alex Chilton put on a great show that night, even doing Big Star's "In The Street". And ultimately at the end of the night, following in some pretty girls who went to the dressing room to meet the star of the night (and no, it didn't seem like a groupie situation; they just appeared to be fans, no more no less). I got the autograph. I asked Alex if a recent quote attributed to him was true, something to the effect that these days, if he could find a way to only need to play music and smoke cigarettes, he'd be a happy man. He perked up, and said, "Who wouldn't want to do that?" This cracked up the other fans in the room.

Even Quentin ended up coming down to get an autograph.


Blogger Todd Totale said...

Similar experience: I encountered Alex backstage around '92/'93. I was too cool for school and Chilton moreso; what could he possibly have to prove to some longhaired Midwestern twentysomething in a Jesus Lizard t-shirt. I was in the backstage trailer (it was an outdoor concert) and he came in, grabbed a beer out of the cooler and pulled out a cigarette. I thought of something "cool" to say, which was really the most uncool thing to say given the circumstances.
ME: Thanks for coming to Iowa, Alex.
ALEX: Thanks for coming to the show.
ME: Have you talked to Westerberg lately? What's he up to?
ALEX: I haven't talked to him in quite a while.
ME: It must have been pretty cool to have him write a song about you.
ALEX: Yeah, it was pretty flattering.
What the fuck?!
His roadie came in and spoke in some kind of code. My then-girlfriend and I determined that they had scored some weed or something and they immediately left to go to the hotel. Saved by the joint. This was before I owned "Sister Lovers." Now that I do, I have a whole bunch of questions to ask him. That doesn't mean he'd respond, but I'd a least come with small gift of herb so that he'd feel obligated to have a stoned discussion about "Kangaroo."

June 02, 2006 9:07 PM  
Blogger Mr. Love said...

What a smug fucking prick. He should be felching himself sideways for the fact that anyone still cares about the small amount of just-ok music he's made.

September 07, 2006 11:27 AM  

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