Power Pop Legends Big Star Subject of Ambitious New Photo Book


Power Pop Legends Big Star Subject of Ambitious New Photo Book

–Joe Lund

Power pop legends Big Star are the subject of an ambitious new photo book featuring a trove of images of the beloved Memphis-based group. Titled BIG STAR – Isolated in the Light, the book is the result of a collaborative effort between graphic designer Fabrice Couillerot and photographer Donna Ranieri, who spent five years on the project.

“Fabrice and I both share a love of music and photography, and once we realized that we were both fanatical about the music of Big Star, the idea was hatched to create a first-ever photography monograph,” says Ranieri. “Here was a band, not well known at the time, surrounded by a constellation of talented, gifted photographers, many of whom are now major names in the photography world. When you have someone like William Eggleston taking your band photos, that elevates the imagery to a completely new level.”

The book includes more than 200 photographs, many of them rare or never-before-seen. Historic images from the vaults of Ardent Studios are included as well, lovingly re-scanned and restored from original negatives, transparencies and prints. Fleshing out the beautiful images are interviews, remembrances, essays, and anecdotes from people closely associated with the band. Big Star drummer Jody Stephens, David Bell (brother of Big Star co-founder Chris Bell), and the Posies’ Ken Stringfellow — who joined a re-tooled version of Big Star, in the late ‘90s — are among the many insiders who contributed.

“Make no mistake,” says Stringfellow, “this is a fine art book that happens to have a popular music group as its subject. Discovering these photos for me is like finding a letter never sent, beautifully rendered, lovingly compiled. As much as [Big Star co-leader] Alex [Chilton] was uncomfortable with the edification of Big Star, a music project he considered a commercial and artistic (I kid you not) failure, I like to think that he would have approved of this monograph, because this collection is about the images, and the quality of the art is undeniable. We are lucky to have the art, and blessed that it’s been compiled and catalogued here so lovingly and beautifully.”

BIG STAR – Isolated in the Light is set to be published on October 14. The publication coincides with the 50th Anniversary of Ardent Studios, the Memphis-based independent label and recording studio that became ground zero for all of Big Star’s recordings.

To pre-order the book click here