The recent heart attack death of American musical genius Alex Chilton closes out a spectacular life producing some great pop music. Chilton was once the driving force and lead vocalist behind The Box Tops, which were as good as any top UK pop musical act at the time. Their version of "The Letter" so impressed UK singer Joe Cocker that he just had to do his own version. And some singles by The Box Tops such as "Sweet Cream Ladies Forward March" impressed one baking company enough to become their commercial slogan for a time.
The Box Tops also managed to have a string of other successful singles such as "Cry Like A Baby", "Soul Deep", "I Shall Be Released" and more. Chilton's group was nominated for two Grammy Awards in 1967 for "The Letter" which sold a staggering four million copies and became a smash hit.
Chilton was probably also the originator of the "power-pop" sound, when he formed the new group, Big Star, in later years. And Chilton was also a big influence on the later new wave and punk rock genre as well. Chilton was probably a major figure in proto-punk history for this very reason.
Unfortunately, despite critical acclaim for Big Star from many sectors, Chilton's early success with The Box Tops never followed him in later years. But for a time, The Box Tops were the biggest act from the Bell Records label which included The Fifth Dimension, and later top UK acts such as Gary Glitter, The Sweet as well as Canadian acts like April Wine on their Big Tree Records label.
Alex Chilton was a real legend. A great influence on music both in the U.S. and the UK. He'll certainly be missed.