Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me

Synopsis: BIG STAR: NOTHING CAN HURT ME is a feature-length documentary about legendary Memphis band Big Star. While mainstream success eluded them, Big Star's three albums have become critically lauded touchstones of the rock music canon. A seminal band in the history of alternative music, Big Star has been cited as an influence by artists including REM, The Replacements, Belle & Sebastian, Elliott Smith and Flaming Lips, to name just a few. With never-before-seen footage and photos of the band, in-depth interviews and a rousing musical tribute by the bands they inspired, BIG STAR: NOTHING CAN HURT ME is a story of artistic and musical salvation.
Director(s): Drew DeNicola, Olivia Mori (co-director)
Production: Magnolia Pictures
Rotten Tomatoes:
113 min

Thank you very much, ladies...


Now what?


you want to talk about.

All right.

Like Big Star,

things like that?


Well, what's the story

behind the "Third" album?

There was a lot of turmoil

involved in recording

that album, wasn't there?

I mean, you went

into the studio

and is that what caused

the break-up,

was it recording

the third album?

Sh*t, no.

No, it was just, um, you know,

we broke up

after the first album.

After the first?

Yeah, has anybody

here ever heard Big Star?

We should play Big Star

for them before

we talk about Big Star

is the thing, you know.

I mean, we're already playing

Alex Chilton's solo records.

They are very wonderful.

However, now we're gonna

talk about a band

I used to play with that, um,


a lot of peoples' heads.

Rock Writer's

of the World,

a lot of it's a blur.

We had meetings.

I think we elected

like a president.

The whole premise

was to unionize,

but the real reason for this

is they wanted us

to see Big Star.

I can't even say

that I remember

everything about the set

except that, you know,

they had a bunch

of rock critics dancing

which is beyond a miracle.

They were... they were just

unbelievably great.

Then we became closer

and something weird happened,

something that really

transformed him.

He didn't think

it would be this good,

none of us did.

It was one of those

seminal moments.

Rock 103, WZXR, Memphis.

Good morning to you,

this is Randy Beard.

Some of you probably

weren't really

too much into Rock and Roll

when Big Star was here

in Memphis in '72, '73,

but they have reached

a cult status.

# You know it's all right

# We've got all night

It seemed unusual

that you could hear an album

that was so incredibly good

and people didn't

really know the music.

It was amazing.

This is Fresh Air.

My guest is Alex Chilton.

He started his career

as the lead singer

of the Box Tops

and he formed

his own band Big Star.

Many singers, songwriters

have been inspired...

And after Chris Bell

split the band,

Chris went over to England

and while he was there recorded

a considerable

amount of material

at Air London Studios with...

It's a strange history.

You have to do

a lot of explaining

of who this band is.

All of these people

in that Memphis community,

it feels like an odd connection

and collection of people.

Those couple of records,

they are such masterpieces.

They are so pristine.

And if you only

knew that side,

you would know

the whole history.

All the problems

with distribution

and the record

not getting out there.

They really were kind of

on their own island.

It's that isolation that creates

the uniqueness, you know.

To me Big Star

was like some letter

that was posted in 1971

that arrived in 1985.

You know,

it's just like something

that got lost

in the mail, really.

It felt more personal to me.

It felt like it was your own.

You could feel like

Fleetwood Mac was your own.

Whatever, however,

whatever quality it was,

it belonged to the world.

There's a sadness to it

because those were

some of the best records

made in that decade

and they just didn't get heard.

Sometimes lack of success

forces you deeper

within yourself

and that to me

is the best thing

about the Big Star story.

Well, I guess

the best way to set up

the Big Star story

is the '60s in Memphis

and what was going on.

Yes, of course, the impact

of the British Invasion

what had been just

a handful of garage bands,

all of a sudden,

there were bands everywhere.

I wasn't particularly aware

that Memphis was

one of the places

where Rock and Roll

got invented,


they would have contests

on the radio all the time,

well, you know,

"Who's the best,

the Beatles or Elvis?"

I pestered my parents

till they bought me a bass

and started playing

in a little garage band.

Back in the '60s

there were so many kids

and neighborhoods

were such a big deal

that you could field

a baseball team,

a football team,

and you could also

field a band.

I was 21 years old

when we started

that commercial studio

and I probably

looked to people

like I was about 16.

There was no reason

for those people to think

I knew what I was doing.

When I was in

junior high school,

we were making

recordings in my house.

Every kid was going out

and buying

a guitar or a drum set

or something

and starting a band.

So we had, you know,

plenty of guinea pigs

to experiment on

and then we would go

and have 45 records pressed

and we'd try

to sell them locally

and actually

had fairly good luck.

And I was asked to join

a kind of successful local band

who made records.

So it was just


that was easy to fall into.

The first time

I saw Alex Chilton,

I guess he was

11 or 12 years old.

Now Alex was

what I call an art brat.

His mother ran an art gallery.

His father was

a hobbyist clarinet player.

Bill Eggleston,

the Memphis art photographer

had given him peyote

and he was running around

with his eyes

spinning like that

and his hair sticking out

and I thought, "Well, this kid's

gonna have a unique life. "

I got sent to Central

for one year

in the 10th grade

and Alex was

in my geometry room.

And I noticed that, you know,

Alex, he's not here today.

And then the next

geometry class

I said, "He's not here

again today. "

You know, what's going on?

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Drew DeNicola

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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