Phil Chess, Co-Founder Of Chess Records, Dies At 95

CHICAGO (CBS) – Phil Chess, co-founder of Chicago’s Chess Records, a label said to have help invent rock ‘n’ roll, has died at 95.

Chess was one of two Chicago brothers who helped change American popular music. Phil and his brother Leonard were Polish immigrants, who started Chess Records in Chicago’s South Loop in 1950.

CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports the company had a roster of legendary, ground-breaking musicians, who were cherished around the world.

From blues to the early days of rock ‘n’ roll, Chess and his brother Leonard made a home for the Blues and what would later be known as rock ‘n’ roll.

At 2120 South Michigan, a treasure trove American music was made right here. And helping it become one of Chicago’s greatest exports was Phil Chess.

Photo of Album Cover and Muddy WATERS; Muddy Waters, Got My Mojo Working, record label - on Chess Records  (Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns)

Photo of Album Cover and Muddy WATERS; Muddy Waters, Got My Mojo Working, record label – on Chess Records (Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns)

Chess’ death at 95 is renewing appreciation for Chess Records founded by Chess and brother Leonard in the 1950s.

Blues legends Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon made iconic records for Chess.

Today, in this same building, Dixon’s grandson general manager the Willie Dixon Blues Heaven Foundation.

A plaque outside Chess Records in Chicago (Photo by Mick Gold/Redferns)

A plaque outside Chess Records in Chicago (Photo by Mick Gold/Redferns)

Before they were superstars, barely out of their teens, the Rolling Stones recorded at Chess, too.

Phil and Leonard Chess went on to start WVON Radio. On the airwaves, on record, the brothers created a showcase for great artists whose influence shaped pop culture.

Phil Chess died last night in Arizona. Leonard Chess died in 1969.

Today, blues legend Buddy Guy said, in his words, “Phil and Leonard Chess were cuttin’ the type of music nobody else was paying attention to. They made Chicago what it is today, the Blues capitol of the world.”

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, lots of other rock superstars talked about the influence of Chess Records and it shaped their careers.

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