The greatest band of the ‘70s may be one you’ve never heard of. Find out about the tragedy and legend of Memphis band, Big Star, in the new documentary, Nothing Can Hurt Me. The film trains a lens on Big Star’s baffling commercial failure, unraveling of lead singer/guitarist, Alex Chilton, and sudden death of singer/songwriter Chris Bell. The band’s debut album, satirically titled #1 Record includes “In the Streets” later used for the popular TV show That ‘70s Show intro song and “Thirteen”, one of the most beautiful young love sonnets that’s been covered by a slew of artists including Elliott Smith, Wilco, Kathryn Williams, and Garbage.
What should have been a skyrocketing-to-fame debut of Big Star fizzled out quickly as distribution problems made it hard for anyone to find a copy of the album. The quartet’s next record, Radio City met the same sales disappointment. By the time Chilton recorded Third/Sister Lovers the Big Star sound had unwoven from Beatles-esque power pop into a haunting and open wound of a record.
The film, Nothing Can Hurt Me takes an unfiltered look at Chilton’s fall from the spotlight and the subsequent creation of a painfully honest album that foreshadowed the alternative rock of the ‘80s and ‘90s. It wasn’t until REM, The Bangles, Elliott Smith, Raconteurs, and others cited their inspiration from Big Star that their albums were salvaged from anonymity and recognized as pure vinyl gold. All three LPs now live on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Nothing Can Hurt Me premiers today in select theaters.
As a tribute to the new film and our love for Big Star we’ve put together 13 Going on 13: A Big Star Tribute featuring a few of their seminal songs covered by some all-time great artists. You can also check out the soundtrack for the film with previously unreleased tracks.