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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

R.I.P. Andy Hummel, Big Star Bassist

Posted By on Tue, Jul 20, 2010 at 8:36 AM

Four months after the death of Big Star mastermind Alex Chilton, the bassist for that revered Memphis power-pop group, Andy Hummel, has died as well. Hummel, according to MTV, had battled cancer for two years. He was 59 years old when he died yesterday in Dallas.

Hummel was the original bassist for Big Star, a group that in many ways blazed the path for the American alt-rock explosion of the '80s and '90s. And in case you think the band's legacy lies mainly with the skinny-jeaned set, the title of one of that group's most celebrated songs, "September Gurls," also went on to influence what is turning out to be (groan) the summer radio jam of 2010 -- Katy Perry's "California Gurls":
"My manager, Bradford, he's from Mississippi, and he's a huge Big Star fan," Perry said. "And with the death of one of their members [Chilton], I had just written that song, and he's like, 'Katy, just for me, will you please title it 'California Gurls,' with a 'u'? People won't even know!' "

Hummel's death leaves drummer Jody Stephens as the original member of Big Star. It's extra sad to think that until this year, three-quarters of that amazing band (guitarist Chris Bell died in a 1978 car accident) were still alive. R.I.P. Andy Hummel.

(An earlier version of this post mistakenly said that Hummel performed with Big Star in recent years; in fact it was Ken Stringfellow who played bass with the reformed Big Star.)

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Ian S. Port

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