Chess Records

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Chess Records
Logo of the label
Logo of the label
Active years 1950-1975
founder Phil Chess , Leonard Chess
Seat Chicago , Illinois, USA
Label code LC 00156
Sub-label Checker Records
Genre (s) Blues , rhythm and blues , rock 'n' roll

Chess Records was an American independent label based in Chicago , Illinois that pioneered the development of rhythm and blues , blues and rock 'n' roll .


The brothers Leonard Chess and Phil Chess bought into Aristocrat Records in 1947 and became the sole owners in 1950. They renamed the company Chess Records. The label was very successful together with other independent record companies such as Atlantic Records , Aladdin Records and Specialty Records , as they offered the audience the records that the major labels could not or would not record. In 1952 the sub-label Checker Records was founded, on which mainly gospel and blues music was published. 1955 came with Argo Records , a jazz - label to which in 1965 Cadet Records was renamed as a label of the same name in the UK existed. Chess Records is one of the most important labels for blues recordings. Most of the recordings were made in Bill Putnam's recording studios of the Universal Recording Corporation in Chicago, until the company's own recording studios were founded in May 1957 , where the Rolling Stones also recorded in 1965 .

Chess Studio in Chicago

Many big names in the blues such as Muddy Waters , Willie Dixon and Howlin 'Wolf are inextricably linked to Chess. Willie Dixon played bass on many Chess recordings and wrote and produced countless hits for the label, including My Babe for Little Walter , Seventh Son for Willie Mabon and (I'm your) Hoochie Coochie Man for Muddy Waters. Even Chuck Berry published much of his work on Chess. One critic said that without Chess Records today's music would have a different sound.

In 1969 the Chess brothers sold their company to General Recorded Tape for $ 6.5 million . Leonard Chess died in the same year. In August 1975 the remaining remains of Chess were also sold to General Recorded Tape. MCA Records acquired the Chess Master Tapes. Meanwhile, the rights to the recordings are held by Universal Music , which publishes the recordings on the Geffen Records label . In 1997 MCA Records released a series of CDs under the title Chess - The Legendary Masters Series to celebrate the 50th anniversary , which contain reissues of titles from the Chess Records catalog. For this, Andy McKaie received the Living Blues Award as "Producer / Compiler of the Year (Historical Recordings)" .

Chess Records was best known for its blues, rock 'n' roll and R&B recordings. Artists who worked for Chess Records included Willie Dixon , Muddy Waters , Howlin 'Wolf , Sonny Boy Williamson II , Gene Ammons , Jimmy Rogers , Chuck Berry , Bo Diddley , Little Walter , The Moonglows , Etta James , Minnie Riperton , Bobby Charles and many more. Dick LaPalm worked in the doctoral department in the 1960s .

Apparently the Rolling Stones owe their creation to a Chess Records record. Keith Richards is said to have met Mick Jagger at the Dartford train station . He saw that Jagger had the Chess LP The Best of Muddy Waters with him and wanted to know where he had bought it. What is certain is that the name Rolling Stones is derived from a piece by Muddy Waters published on Chess.

Artist on the Chess Records family of labels

Chess Records




Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Album Review: 'The Best of Chess Records' by David Gonzales