Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Another fallen star

R.I.P. Andy Hummel, the third of Big Star's original four members to pass away, and the second this year. Last year, in writing a post on Four Neat Guys, I included a peculiar anecdote about him as related to me by Harris Scheuner, which I reproduce here.

We were all obsessed with Big Star, whose catalog was out of print at the time, though Randy had all three studio albums and a bootleg tape of the radio broadcast from 1974. Harris, in particular, seemed to be way off into a Big Star trip, and I remember him telling me this story around this time. He was in the old Seessel's Supermarket on Union, doing some grocery shopping. An announcement came over the in-store PA system: "Mr. Andy Hummel, Mr. Andy Hummel, please come to customer service." Harris was curious, as Hummel is not that common a surname, and Andy Hummel was the name of the bass player in Big Star. So Harris went to customer service, to see a tall guy there who was unquestionably Andy Hummel.

Harris waited until he had finished whatever business he had been paged for, and asked him, "Excuse me, are you Andy Hummel?" Andy Hummel, who indeed he was, looked a bit startled and said, "Yes." "Andy Hummel from Big Star?" Apparently there was a pause, and the real live Andy Hummel said, "Yes, but how do you know about Big Star?" As Harris told it, Andy Hummel had moved to Texas to work in the aerospace industry, and apparently had no knowledge of the resurgence of interest in Big Star, despite the fact that REM and a number of other high-profile acts had by this time become very vocal public champions of the band. To anyone reading who can't remember a time before the internet, this is the way life used to be - people, relationships, bands just got lost. Unsearchable, un-Facebookable, un-Linked-Inable, just gone.

The curious among you may enjoy this interview with Andy Hummel from 2001, in which he gives his view of life in Big Star and beyond. I fail to understand his vitriolic attacks on Jim Dickinson, but I guess everyone is entitled to be wrong about something. There may be some tension up in Rock-n-Roll Heaven tonight.

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