Five 1970s bands who sadly broke up too soon

These bands gave up too soon.
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BIG STAR – 1972-1974 (3 albums)

By the time of Big Star’s third release, 1978’s Third/Sister Lovers, they hadn’t been a band for almost five years. Their records got critical acclaim but didn’t sell. They were unhappy with their promotion. They were unhappy with each other. Guitarist Chris Bell and bass player Andy Hummel were the Gallagher brothers of their day. Some days they’d play music. Some days they’d try to kill each other. But they were tight, and in frontman Alex Chilton, they had a bona fide star.

Their debut album #1 Record, boasted the gorgeous acoustic romance of “Thirteen” along with the pure power pop of “In the Street.” If you think you don’t know “In the Street,” you may be wrong. If you watched That ’70s Show, it’s the theme music, albeit recorded by others. That’s how instrumental Big Star was to the decade. When producers of something called That ’70s Show needed a tune, they went to Big Star.

By the second album, Bell was gone and Chilton took on an even bigger role. They could replicate the pure power pop of “In the Street,” in a song like “September Gurls,” or they could drift toward proto-metal in the heavier “Mod Lang.” The romance of “Thirteen” is present in “I’m I Love With a Girl,” and they opened the whole thing with the glam funk of “O, My Soul.”

Big Star didn’t have a huge spectrum, but within the power pop umbrella, they nailed it all. They influenced a lot of later bands and eventually reformed (sans Bell, who died in 1978), but never really captured the ‘70s magic. But they mattered enough for the Replacement’s Paul Westerberg to write a song called “Alex Chilton,” in which he proclaims “I never travel far without a little Big Star.”