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Singer Alex Chilton dies aged 59

Influential singer and guitarist Alex Chilton, who enjoyed a cult following with rock band Big Star, has died.

Chilton, 59, died in hospital in New Orleans after experiencing apparent heart problems, a friend said. He topped the charts as a teenager with the Box Tops before fronting Big Star in the 1970s. He also produced punk band The Cramps and had a solo career.

Bands including REM, Wilco and Teenage Fanclub also credited Chilton as an influence.

As a 16-year-old singer for the pop-soul outfit the Box Tops, Chilton topped the charts with the band's song The Letter in 1967. Their other hits were Soul Deep and Cry Like a Baby.

Big Star, which he formed in 1971 with guitarist/co-songwriter Chris Bell, drummer Jody Stephens and bassist Andy Hummel, brought less mainstream success but made him a cult hero.

The band's three 1970s albums - 1 Record, Radio City and Third/Sister Lovers - all earned places on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest.

Big Star reformed in 1993 and released a fourth studio album, In Space, in 2005. Chilton had been due to perform with them at the South by Southwest music festival in Texas on Saturday.

Contributed by: Our Special Correspondent
City: San Francisco 
Country: USA
Date: March 24, 2010