Wednesday April 26, 2017

'We try to provide a voice they'd be proud of': Jody Stephens on continuing the legacy of Big Star

Big Star's Jody Stephens with Tom Power at the q studio in Toronto, Ont.

Big Star's Jody Stephens with Tom Power at the q studio in Toronto, Ont. (Melody Lau/CBC)

Listen 19:13

Big Star is one of rock 'n' roll's classic underdog stories. 

Like the Velvet Underground or Iggy and the Stooges, their albums didn't sell a lot of records and they didn't play stadiums in their day. But, they went on to inspire some of the biggest bands of the following decades.

"It all worked out," says drummer Jody Stephens, the band's sole surviving original member. "I'm having a great career [...] Anything that serves what I'd like to think Big Star is, is a great experience for me."

This year brings new chapters to the Big Star story: Third was recently re-issued in a deluxe package, and the film Thank You Friends documents an all-star tribute to the band featuring Kronos Quartet and members of R.E.M., Wilco, Yo La Tango and most importantly, Stephens.

Today, Stephens joins Tom Power in the studio to look back at the songs of Big Star, working with bandmate Alex Chilton, and performing "Thirteen" with Toronto's Choir!Choir!Choir!. 

Below are the songs mentioned in today's interview: 

'Thirteen'

'September Gurls'

'Thank You Friends'

'Downs'

'For You'

— Produced by Chris Trowbridge