Johnny Riggs talks about Big Star

24 Apr
April 24, 2012

my name is Johnny Riggs.
i was a DJ.
i have a band called Cinnamon Toast
i photograph people’s heads:

And there’s this:

do you mind if i write in lowercase like e.e.cummings? my laptop is
broken and to make letters uppercase i have to stand on one leg.

i’m a fan of nearly everything musical. some of the music that gets
listened to the most and brings me the most joy is discordant, noisy,
full of drones and minimalistic, but my favorite albums of all time
are filled with quiet songs written by people with broken hearts.

for me, the band that sums up the sadness and desperation of lost love
the best is Big Star. the main part of their career took part in the
early 70s. their albums were hard to find even then. i was lucky
enough to score all 3 of them at the same time in a used record store,
and i’ve made many people jealous over the years because i own original copies.

they only made one LP with the original band and fell apart slowly
over the next 2 records. each one is filled with songs that can yank
tears out of the strongest of souls. their story is a sad one, but you
can read that elsewhere on the interwebs.

i bought the albums because i’d been hearing their name for years, but
when i first listened to them they didn’t strike me as anything
special. it was the late 70s and i was in the thrall of punk rock from
the UK. it took a broken heart and being on a long trip in my car with
only Big Star to listen to that made me understand.

they’ve influenced countless bands you know, but aren’t a band who has
ever gotten much play on any radio station. their best known song is
“September Gurls”, and the only other one most people are familiar
with is a song that became the theme song to That 70s Show.
their songs have been covered by Jeff Buckley, Garbage, Matthew Sweet
and dozens of others.

i only have one tattoo on my body, and it’s the Big Star symbol on the back of my neck.
i’m not sure that talking about them will convince you of anything
that you won’t get by listening to the music. if you like the music, you’ll want to hear more and learn more.

johnny riggs big star

i’m lucky enough to have met Alex Chilton, their singer and main
songwriter, before he died, and a couple of guys i know from the band
The Posies ended up joining a 90′s version of Big Star and getting to
play with their heroes. the first time i met the Posies they were
coveting my original Big Star records, and eventually they became
members of the band. life is funny. or funny-ish.

maybe their most covered song, Thirteen:

simple and beautiful:

if you’ve screwed up in a relationship and this song doesn’t
make you sad, you’re heartless:

and here’s one more chance to like them so i don’t think you’re
a goofus:


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