Never Travel Far Without a Little Big Star: Bassist Andy Hummel Is Dead at 59

The sad news came yesterday, via

a tweet from Ken Stringfellow of The Posies

: "Another sad loss for Big Star fans as Andy Hummel passes away after long illness."

Over on DC9

, in a morning must-read, our own Jesse Hughey confirms it: Hummel, founding bassist of the band that influenced the likes of R.E.M., the Replacements and myriad other power-pop comers, died after a two-year struggle with cancer at his home in Weatherford. The longtime Lockheed-Martin engineer was 59, and his death comes but

four months after singer-songwriter Alex Chilton'


Just last November, upon the release of a massive boxed set, Jesse spoke with Hummel, who explained his decision to leave behind the rock-and-roll life. He spoke fondly of his decision to work in Fort Worth, and only occasionally wondered, "What if?" As he told Jesse:

"The way things panned out with all these other bands who cite Big Star as a big influence on them getting started and how they grew artistically, that gets you thinking, 'Gosh, we really had something going that could have grown into something much, much bigger, and who knows?' But shoot, you never know."

Ironically, only yesterday my friend Bob Mehr directed my attention to several just-posted videos documenting the entirety of this year's South by Southwest panel that, upon the occasion of Chilton's death, became a memorial to the singer-songwriter. Hummel, who you see in the freeze-frame at top, was joined by drummer Jody Stephens, who is now the sole surviving member of Big Star. I've spent the better part of the morning listening to this.

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