Christopher Branford Bell (January 12, 1951 – December 27, 1978) was an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Along with Alex Chilton, he led the power pop band Big Star through its first album #1 Record (1972). He also pursued a solo career throughout the mid-1970s, resulting in the posthumous I Am the Cosmos LP.
All Music Guide praised Bell as “one of the unsung heroes of American pop music” and noted his lasting impression, saying: “Despite a life marked by tragedy and a career crippled by commercial indifference, the singer/songwriter’s slim body of recorded work proved massively influential on the generations of indie rockers who emerged in his wake.”His catalog of proto-alternative rock has inspired the likes of Beck, R.E.M., Teenage Fanclub, Primal Scream, Afghan Whigs, Pete Yorn, Wilco, The Posies, and The Replacements, all of which have covered his music or expressed their admiration for Big Star in the press.
His life was documented in the acclaimed Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me documentary, released in 2013 on Magnolia Pictures.
In August 2018, Bell’s life, and the career of Big Star, was documented in the book There Was A Light: The Cosmic History of Chris Bell and the Rise of Big Star. The 400-page oral-history style bio contains rare interviews with Bell, his band mates, friends, family and notable fans.