Chess Records Co-Founder Phil Chess Passes
October 19, 2016 at 10:29 AM (PT)
PHIL CHESS, the legendary co-founder of CHESS RECORDS, has died in TUCSON, AZ at 95, the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES reports. CHESS, along with his brother Leonard, were the Polish immigrants in 1947 who started CHESS RECORDS in CHICAGO, where they recorded blues legends such as MUDDY WATERS, ETTA JAMES, HOWLIN’ WOLF, BO DIDDLEY and BUDDY GUY, as well as just-turned 90-year-old rock and roll legend CHUCK BERRY.
The music they records at CHESS RECVORDS influenced new generations of soon-to-be-rockers such as THE ROLLING STONES, THE BEATLES and LED ZEPPELIN in both AMERICA and ENGLAND. As MUDDY WATERS put it, “The Blues had a baby, and they named it rock ‘n’ roll.”
As late SUN-TIMES film critic ROGER EBERT once wrote: “The former studios of CHESS RECORDS on South Michigan [Ave.] in CHICAGO are as important to the development of rock ‘n’ roll as SUN RECORDS in MEMPHIS. You could make a good case, in fact, that without CHESS there might have been no SUN, and without MUDDY WATERS, WILLIE DIXON, BO DIDDLEY and CHUCK BERRY, there might have been no ELVIS PRESLEY, JERRY LEE LEWIS or CARL PERKINS. Rock ‘n’ roll flowed directly, sometimes almost note by note, from rhythm and blues.”
Among the classic written at CHESS were WILLIE DIXON's “(I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man” for MUDDY WATERS; “You Need Love,” which LED ZEPPELIN used to create “Whole Lotta Love;” DIXON's “Wang Dang Doodle” for HOWLIN' WOLF; and HOWLIN’ WOLF’s “Little Red Rooster.” THE ROLLING STONES made an early pilgrimage to CHESS and used the studio address for the name of a 1965 instrumental, “2120 S. Michigan Avenue.” That address was designated a city landmark in 1990.
Still, PHIL CHESS downplayed his contribution to music, once saying: “I didn’t know what I was doing."
A private service is planned in TUCSON.