The life and times of the legendary band.
In early 1979, Alex Chilton formed the Panther Burns with Tav Falco. Chilton was nearly a decade removed from his stint as lead singer in the Top 40 band the Box Tops and almost five years from his last recordings with Big Star, the pop band whose work had sparked a legion of dedicated followers. Over those five years, Chilton had begun his definitive move away from everything he’d done before. He made two solo records that had grown deliberately more simple and primal, crossing rockabilly with outrage, and he’d then moved himself behind the scenes to produce the first singles of the band the Cramps, rockabilly revolutionaries of an even more primitive sort. With his next project, the Panther Burns, Chilton found his least refined band to date and again pushed himself seemingly out of the spotlight, this time in the role of the guitar sideman. Yet he appeared to still have a great hand in the band’s direction. The Panther Burns had started almost as an art project, but a year later they had evolved into a rock ‘n’ roll dance band. They were like no other dance band around…
Kramer could hear Leary and Haynes screaming at each other inside, and when he finally worked up the courage to open the door, he found the two of them smashing guitars, bottle and chairs in what Kramer calls “the most potent example of bad behavior I have ever seen. To this day, more than fifteen years later, I have no more vivid memory of the effect a life in music can have on a human being.”
Moments later a man entered the dressing room and asked if he could borrow a guitar. “BORROW A GUITAR??!!! WELL, WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU???!!! Haynes screamed, eyes flashing in delirious anticipation of forthcoming violence. But the man was totally unfazed.
“I’m Alex Chilton,” the man answered calmly.
Haynes was flabbergasted. After a long pause, he methodically opened the remaining guitar cases one by one and gestured at them as if to say, “Take anything you want.”