The year was 1967 – middle of the Vietnam War. Those of you not familiar with Blue-Eyed Soul may or may not recall the Box Tops version of the letter.
(Did we actually dress like that in the 60s?)
Their lead singer was Alex Chilton, who would later move to NOLA and join the music scene there. Last week he passed away…
Yet another victim of the dysfunctional Health Care System right wingers fight so hard to protect-
Alex Chilton‘s unexpected death last month at age 59 might have been prevented if he had health insurance. According to a report in the Times-Picayune, Chilton’s wife, Laura Kersting, says that although he had symptoms of heart trouble, he declined immediate treatment due to lack of coverage.
Chilton, who at age 16 had a No. 1 US hit single with ‘The Letter’ in 1967 as lead singer of the Box Tops, passed away just days before he was to appear at a reunion show in Austin, Texas, of his ’70s group, the widely influential power-pop band Big Star.
“At least twice in the week before his fatal heart attack, Chilton experienced shortness of breath and chills while cutting grass,” the article reports. “But he did not seek medical attention, Kersting said, in part because he had no health insurance.”
The Times-Picayune reveals that on the morning of March 17, the Big Star frontman called Kersting at work to tell her he wasn’t well. She made it home before the ambulance and rushed him to the emergency room, running a red light at his insistence, before he lost consciousness when they were just a block from the emergency room.
The piece also takes a close look at Chilton’s private life in New Orleans, where the Memphis-raised Louisiana transplant lived in the mixed neighborhood of Treme, where he rode out Hurricane Katrina in 2005. “He identified with black people more than white people,” Kersting said. “He was very much a part of this neighborhood.” Neighbors across the street marveled as Chilton cut his grass with a manual push mower.
Despite his iconic indie rock stature, Chilton’s wife said, “He was kind of lazy … He took it very easy. He’d say, ‘Why work when I don’t have to?’ He wanted a very simple life. He was not interested in fame. He was interested in money — he wanted enough to be comfortable and to travel.”
The Box Tops seminal song would later be covered by a number of groups, none more famously than by Joe Cocker and Mad Dogs and Englishmen, in 1970…
In the Age before white people learned to dance in this country!