Synopses & Reviews
The first biography of the influential musician and forebear of the indie-rock scene
Alex Chiltons story is rags to riches in reverse, beginning with teenage rock stardom and heading downward. Following stints leading 60s sensation the Box Tops (The Letter”) and pioneering 70s popsters Big Star (the ultimate American pop band”Time), Chilton became a dishwasher. Yet he rose again in the 80s as a solo artist, producer, and trendsetter, coinventing the indie-rock genre. By the 90s, acolytes from R.E.M. to Jeff Buckley embodied Chiltons legacy, ushering him back to the spotlight before his untimely death in 2010.
In the career-spanning and revelatory A Man Called Destruction, longtime Chilton acquaintance Holly George-Warren has interviewed more than 100 bandmates, friends, and family members to flesh out a man who presided overand influencedfour decades of American musical history, rendered here with new perspective through the adventures of a true iconoclast.
"George-Warren's (Punk 365 ) swirling, perhaps over-generous biography follows the rowdy life of Alex Chilton, a largely unheard of underground rock star. The work spans the career of the Memphis-born Chilton from his 1967 debut as a chart-topping 16-year-old pop idol with the Box Tops, to his critically acclaimed but obscure work with Big Star and other punk bands, to his minor resurgence from the 1980s as an elder statesman of indie rock. Along the way George-Warren tells a well-paced, matter-of-fact, classically sordid saga of dissipation including booze, pills, groupies, onstage antics, domestic violence, suicide attempts, anti-semitic outbursts, and Elvis-like bloating that bottomed out in stints spent working as a janitor and dishwasher. Less entertaining are the elaborate rehashes of Chilton's recording sessions. Chilton's abandonment of commercial success, inclination towards wild, frequently off-putting music, and squalid life-style have made him a martyr in the punk-grunge pantheon, but the many encomiums George-Warren assembles may not convince readers of his brilliance. Instead, he comes across as the embodiment of an aesthetic beloved by the cognoscenti rather than the creator of music that can move the masses. (May)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"It's a credit to Warren's unflinching tone that the Chilton of Destruction
is a charismatic, oft-frustrating man unwilling to kowtow to anything or anyone ... You'll never hear his music the same way again."
“A Man Called Destruction is also the only thing about this criminally under-appreciated band youll ever need to read. It does more than all the articles, books, documentary films, and cover albums with liner notes written by famous fanboys about how important and life-changing Big Stars recordings were combined…Nobody has done such a great job telling his story before. This is what makes Holly George-Warrens achievement such an important one, and A Man Called Destruction one of the most important books on the life and work of a musician to come out this year.”
~Jason Diamond, Flavorwire
“This book is all Chilton, all the way.”
~The New York Times “A revelatory account of [Chiltons] career."
~NPR "A thoroughly reported biography illuminating the life and work of one of the more mystifying and influential cult figures in rock.... Chilton receives the biography he deserves."
~Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“The immensely gifted and highly influential musician Alex Chilton has long deserved a big biography. Holly George-Warren's meticulously researched and beautifully written book shows us Chilton in all his mysterious glory. A Man Called Destruction gets to the heart of the man by focusing on the music he made (and the music that made him) with great precision and authority. I loved reading this sensitive, sympathetic, and intelligent portrait of a complicated and important figure.”
~Dana Spiotta, author of Stone Arabia
“This book is the very definition of a labor of love. Every page of it is infused with Holly George-Warren's affection for and deep understanding of Alex Chilton and his groundbreaking work. Even its most candid moments are presented with empathy and a profound respect. Chilton could be thorny and difficult character -- he is fortunate to have found a biographer eager to untangle the knots of his character and to find the sweet heart beating within.”
~Anthony DeCurtis, Contributing Editor, Rolling Stone
The first biography of the artist who and#147;essentially invented indie and alternative rockand#8221; (Spin)
A brilliant and influential songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist, the charismatic Alex Chilton was more than a rock starand#151;he was a true cult icon. Awardwinning music writer Holly George-Warrenand#8217;s A Man Called Destruction is the first biography of this enigmatic artist, who died in 2010. Covering Chiltonand#8217;s life from his early work with the charttopping Box Tops and the seminal power-pop band Big Star to his experiments with punk and roots music and his sprawling solo career, A Man Called Destruction is the story of a musical icon and a richly detailed chronicle of pop musicand#8217;s evolution, from the mid-1960s through todayand#8217;s indie rock.
About the Author
Holly George-Warren is the award-winning author of the New York Times bestseller The Road to Woodstock (with Michael Lang), Public Cowboy #1: The Life and Times of Gene Autry, Punk 365, and a dozen other books. The two-time Grammy nominee has written for such publications as Rolling Stone, the New York Times, The Village Voice, and Entertainment Weekly. Coeditor of The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll, she served as the editorial director of Rolling Stone Press for eight years. She lives in upstate New York.