Chilton died March 17 from an apparent heart attack. He was 59. As a teenager, his band The Box Tops made a name for itself with hits including “The Letter” and “Cry Like A Baby.” After breaking up in 1970, the Box Tops reunited in 1996.

In 1971 Chilton co-founded Big Star, which broke up three years later but then reformed with a new lineup in 1993. Bands including R.E.M. and The Replacements have named Big Star as a major influence and Rolling Stone included three of its 1970 albums on its 2003 list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” Chilton also released a number of solo albums and produced records for The Cramps and The Gories.

The Los Angeles Times’ blog Pop & Hiss wrote that Saturday night’s Big Star show had “the weight and solemnity of church” whereas the afternoon panel about the band and Chilton offered “the insight and revelation of the best kind of school.”

The panel included Big Star drummer Jody Stephens and original bassist Andy Hummel along with the band’s latter lineup members Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow. It also included singer-songwriters Tommy Keene and Chris Stamey as well as producer and Ardent Studios owner John Frye, who joined in through a Skype feed. Music journalist Bob Mehr served as the panel organizer.

The group discussed Chilton’s life from growing up with a father who played jazz and a mother who ran an art gallery out of the family home to the struggle to release 1978’s Third/Sister Lovers Big Star album to his demeanor backstage after a not so great show.

The scheduled Big Star performance went on as planned with guest musicians joining in on the 90-minute set as a tribute to Chilton. The show, which was slotted for 12:30 a.m. at Antone’s, began with a letter written by Chilton’s widow, Laura, and read by publicist Heather West.

“He valued spontaneity and while that seemed to contradict his analytical nature, that was why he was a mystery.” the letter read, according to Rolling Stone.

“He had a blase attitude toward death,” the letter continued, according to the New York Times. “It didn’t interest him. The same goes for sleep.”

Big Star’s Stephens, Hummel, Stringfellow and Auer showed off 18 of Big Star’s favorites tunes with some help from fellow musicians and Chilton admirers.

The Meat Puppets’ Curt Kirkwood was featured on “In The Street,” X’s John Doe joined in on “I’m in Love With a Girl” and Sondre Lerche took the stage for “Ballad of El Goodo.” M. Ward handled vocals for “Big Black Car,” R.E.M’s Mike Mills took over on “Jesus Christ” and Chris Stamey of The DB’s joined Big Star for “When My Baby’s Beside Me.”

The set also featured performances by Chuck Prophet, Evan Dando, Amy Speace, The Watson Twins and Susan Cowsill, according to Rolling Stone

Click here and here for the LA Times‘ Pop & Hiss blog posts.

Click here for the Rolling Stone story.