Big Star’s ‘Third’ to be Performed by All-Star Cast

Big Star’s commercially unsuccessful but hugely influential album ‘Third/Sister Lovers’ will be performed in its entirety in New York City on March 26.

Jody Stephens, the only surviving original member of Big Star, will perform along with Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub, M. Ward of She & Him, Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo, Mike Mills of R.E.M., Will Rigby and Chris Stamey of The dB’s, Matthew Sweet, Tift Merritt and Mitch Easter of Let’s Active, accompanied by The Lost in the Trees Orchestra with Jane Scarpantoni, Django Haskins (The Old Ceremony), Brett Harris, Sidney Dixon and Matt McMichaels. More special guest performers are expected to be announced.

In 1974, Big Star was falling apart: bassist Andy Hummel and songwriter/guitarist Chris Bell had both left the band after their first two albums flopped commercially. Founding members Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens got together with producer Jim Dickinson and a handful of contributing musicians, and came up with what Rolling Stone writer Parke Putterbaugh called “Chilton’s untidy masterpiece.” However, the album failed to garner label interest and was shelved until 1978, by which time the band had already been broken up for four years. Like all Big Star albums, ‘Third’ was not a commercial success at the time of its release, but has grown to become both a critic and fan favorite over the years.

Jody Stephens once said of ‘Third,’ “To a great extent it is an Alex solo record,” and indeed the production and arrangements were in many ways quite different from Big Star’s previous albums. Carl Marsh’s string section played a major role, as did wind and brass instruments. In December 2010, the album was performed in its entirety with a full orchestra at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, NC. An encore performance took place February 15 in Chapel Hill, NC. The success of these landmark events has led to the announcement of another performance taking place March 26 at the Baruch Performing Arts Center.

Tickets for the performance went on sale earlier today through Ticketweb.