Phil Chess (1921-2016)

With his brother Leonard (1917-1969), Phil Chess founded and ran Chess Records. Chess began as a blues label featuring such luminaries as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Willie Dixon, but is probably best known as one of the fundamental rock ‘n’ roll labels. In fact, they released what many believe to be the very first rock ‘n’ roll record, “Rocket ’88′” by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats (Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm in disguise):

(That recording was licensed to Chess by Sam Phillips, who would soon found Sun Records.)

Chess Records went on to help define the sound of early rock ‘n’ roll with records by Bo Diddley and, especially, Chuck Berry.

In an odd bit of timing, on his 90th birthday the day before, Chuck Berry announced that next year he will release his first new album since 1979.


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