The ancient Creole cottage in Treme sags. The paint peels. Dormer windows are boarded up. A vine sprouts from the roof. But to Alex Chilton, one of rock’s great enigmas, this was the most precious house in the world. It was home… He preferred to live quietly, just another character in a city full of them. He liked that his life in New Orleans was largely a mystery to his cult of fans around the world. New Orleans, like the cottage in Treme, was his sanctuary.
During long bicycle rides, Chilton engaged people from across the New Orleans social strata. He regaled Decatur Street gutter punks with impromptu astrological readings. “Everyone was equal in his eyes,” (wife Laura) Kersting said. “He gave everyone a chance.”
Dining out was a nightly ritual. The couple frequented Sukhothai in Faubourg Marigny, Maximo’s and Angeli on Decatur Street, and La Crepe Nanou Uptown. Chilton loved the latter’s roast chicken, Kersting said, because it “was just like his mother made it.”
Back at Chez Chilton, he smoked cigarettes and pot. He tuned in to deejay Joe Hastings on classical station WWNO 89.9 FM and stayed up all night watching television. “Walker, Texas Ranger” and “Touched by an Angel” fascinated him; he taught himself the “Walker” theme music on guitar.
Lingering damage to his Treme house was an ongoing source of concern for Chilton. Kersting hopes, in the coming months, to raise enough money to repair the home her husband cherished.
“He loved this house more than he loved himself,” she said. “He really cared about New Orleans houses and people.
“A lot of people thought he still lived in Memphis. But New Orleans was his home. His heart was here.”"
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