It was 1978 at Sam Phillips Recording Service in Memphis. North Carolinian Peter Holsapple had rolled into town chasing the essence of Big Star. He hooked up with musician/engineer/friend-of-Big-Star, Richard Rosebrough after approaching, and being turned down by, Chris Bell, who Holsapple had hoped might be interested in producing him.
Chilton, meanwhile, was knee-deep in the making of Like Flies on Sherbert, also being tracked at Phillips. He told Peter, “I heard some of that stuff you’re working on with Richard … and it really sucks.” Alex promised to come by and show Peter “how it’s done.” According to Holsapple, “I caught Alex exiting a world of sweet pop that I was only just trying to enter, and the door hit me on the way in, I guess.”
The results? Alex’s tracks definitely line up with the chaos found on Flies, while several of Peter’s songs found homes on The dB’s’ albums (“Bad Reputation” and “We Were Happy There”) and on an album by the Troggs (“The Death of Rock” retooled as “I’m in Control”), so not a loss at all. What we have in these newly discovered tapes is a fascinating pivot point, with the artists moving past each other, heading in distinctly different directions.
The Death of Rock: Peter Holsapple vs. Alex Chilton will be released — 40 years after the lost sessions — on October 12, 2018.