BIG STAR’S RADIO CITY (& MORE) INTERNATIONAL TOUR CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF THE BAND’S SOPHOMORE ALBUM

BIG STAR’S RADIO CITY (& MORE) INTERNATIONAL TOUR CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF THE BAND’S SOPHOMORE ALBUM

“A half-century later, the Memphis band's sophomore album remains a bright, beautiful portrait of young,

big emotions and the way they intersected with the joy of music… After Radio City, those feelings have been rarely articulated so perfectly since.” – Paste Magazine

 

50 years ago, Memphis power pop pioneers Big Star released Radio City, their genre-defining sophomore album, which went on to become a cult classic inspiring generations of fans through songs such as “September Gurls,” “Back of a Car,” and “I’m in Love With a Girl.” To celebrate the album’s enduring legacy, an all-star collective of musicians (led by the band’s sole surviving original member, Jody Stephens) will perform Radio City in its entirety on both sides of the Atlantic.

 

Joining Stephens will be some of the band’s biggest fans who have long been associated with Big Star-related projects, including Mike Mills (R.E.M.), Jon Auer (The Posies), Pat Sansone (Wilco), and Chris Stamey (The dB's). The festivities kick off in July at Cat's Cradle in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on August 21, followed by shows across the East Coast in August and the West Coast in October. After a special hometown show at MemphisCrosstown Theater on October 1, the group will head to Europe, with stops in Spain, Norway, and the UK. For a full list of cities visited on the tour along with dates, please see below or click here.

 

***

 

Heavily influenced by the British Invasion, yet undeniably original, Big Star (vocalists/guitarists Alex Chilton and Chris Bell, bassist Andy Hummel, and drummer Jody Stephens) offered a fresh new sound when they emerged in the early ’70s. While power pop wouldn’t truly take off until later in the decade, the Memphis band set the tone with their infectious blend of jangly pop, driving guitars, sweet harmonies, and wistful melancholia. In 1971, Big Star made their debut with #1 Record, which featured such memorable numbers as “In the Street” (later made famous by Cheap Trick),“Thirteen” ("one of rock's most beautiful celebrations of adolescence" — Rolling Stone, 2011), and “The Ballad of El Goodo.” (“The bridge [or middle eight, call it what you will] alone shows more talent and creativity than some bands' entire back catalogues.” — The Guardian, 2011) While the album garnered high marks from critics, however, it failed to make a commercial splash.

 

Bell departed the band soon after, leaving Chilton, Hummel, and Stephens to continue as a trio. In late 1973, Big Star returned to Ardent Studios to record their follow-up, with producer John Fry. Despite losing his longtime collaborator, Chilton stepped in as the band’s de facto leader—a role that allowed his songwriting talents to shine. Released in 1974, Radio City (available via Stax Records/Craft Recordings) featured some of Big Star’s most beloved tracks, including the bluesy opener “O, My Soul,” offbeat rocker “Back of a Car,” the sweet acoustic ballad “I’m in Love with a Girl,” plus their iconic pop classic, “September Gurls.” Once again, Radio City was met with critical acclaim but fell victim to distribution issues, selling less than 20,000 copies at the time.

 

But the story of Radio City certainly wasn’t over. Shared between friends and musicians as the years went on, the album became a cult favorite—far exceeding its original commercial performance. Today, it is considered a definitive title in the power pop canon and has long been counted among rock’s greatest albums. Hailed as “Pure power pop perfection” by Rolling Stone, Radio City has been included in the outlet’s 2003, 2012, and 2020 “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” rankings. “September Gurls,” meanwhile, appeared on its “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list, whileConsequence of Sound declared the track “One of American music’s prototypical power pop jams.”

 

Although Big Star disbanded in late 1974 (not long after recording their third album, Third/Sister Lovers), the band went on to achieve near-mythic status in the underground scene, influencing some the biggest alt-rock artists of the ’80s, ’90s and beyond, including R.E.M., Teenage Fanclub, Wilco, and The Replacements (who famously penned the song “Alex Chilton” as an ode to the group’s frontman). Over the years, Big Star’s songs have been reinterpreted by the likes of Elliott Smith, The Bangles, Placebo, Beck, Gin Blossoms, Garbage, Counting Crows, and Jeff Buckley, to name a few.

 

In the last two decades, Big Star has finally been given their due, honored with a host of glowing retrospectives, as well as a tribute record (Big Star Small World, 2006), a documentary (2012’s Nothing Can Hurt Me), and the 2016 concert film and live album, Thank You, Friends: Big Star’s Third Live…And More. The acclaimed release, which is available to view on AmazonPrime, captures the popular touring live show, “Big Star’s Third,” in which an all-star roster of guest vocalists and musicians join a core group (including Stephens, Mills, Auer, Sansone, and Stamey) to perform Third/Sister Lovers, plus selections from #1 Record and Radio City. Filmed at a concert in Glendale, CA, Thank You, Friends features a cross-generational lineup of talent, including Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), Ira Kaplan (Yo La Tengo), Robyn Hitchcock, Dan Wilson, original arranger Carl Marsh, and San Francisco’s Kronos Quartet.

 

 

50th Anniversary Full Performance of Big Star's Radio City (& More): 

August 21 - Cat's Cradle, Chapel Hill, NC

August 22 - White Eagle Hall, Jersey City, NJ

August 23 - Keswick Theatre, Glenside, PA

August 24 - Union Stage, Washington, DC

Oct. 1 - Crosstown Theater, Memphis, TN

Oct. 4 - Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, CA

Oct. 7 - The Lodge Room, Los Angeles, CA

Oct. 24 - Auditorio Mar de Vigo, Vigo, Spain

Oct. 26 - Sala Apolo, Barcelona, Spain

Oct. 27 - La Riviera, Madrid, Spain

Oct. 29 - Folketeateret, Oslo, Norway

Oct. 31 - Hackney Church, London, UK

  

The Big Star Quintet (with special guest John Stirratt [Wilco] subbing for Mike Mills) will also be hitting the road this July:

July 13 — FitzGerald's, Chicago, IL

July 14 — Square Roots Festival, Chicago, IL

July 15 — Codfish Hollow Barnstormers, Maquoketa, IA

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