15. Chris Bell and the band Big Star helped birth the power pop genre in the 1970s
Chris Bell was a songwriter, singer, and guitar player at the forefront of a musical movement which was known as power pop, and which eventually included bands such as REM, the Afghan Wigs, and Beck (as well as the execrable The Knack). Bell was less well-known in life than he became after his death, and his main contribution to the music world, at least on record, was 1972’s #1 Record, released by Big Star that year. Although other recordings with Big Star followed, and fellow musicians cited the band and Bell as influences throughout the decade, major commercial success was elusive. By the latter part of the decade, Bell was working almost exclusively as a solo performer and recording new recordings which emphasized his growing empathy with Christian music, some of which was released posthumously.
Bell was 27 year of age when he was killed in a car accident on, ironically, December 27, 1978. The sports car he was driving inexplicably left the road in the wee hours of that date as he was returning home following a recording session, striking a telephone pole, killing the artist instantly. Following his death his work found a new audience, chiefly among musicians, among them the bands The Posies and Cheap Trick. By the late 1990s one of Bell’s songs was featured on the television sleeper hit That Seventies Show. His music also appeared in film soundtracks and in covers by other power pop bands of the 1980s. By the summer of 2013 Bell’s life and the music of Big Star were the subject of a documentary film entitled Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me.