Phil Chess, Co Founder of Legendary Chess Records, Has Died, Aged 95
Thu, 20 Oct 2016 09:57:43
Phil Chess, co-founder the legendary label Chess Records died Wednesday at his home in Tucson, Arizona. He was 95.
Along with his brother Leonard, Phil Chess helped make Chicago the epicenter of the blues, Chess' nephew Craig Glicken confirmed his uncle's death to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Born Fiszel Czyż in Poland in 1921, Chess' family immigrated to Chicago – and changed their last name to Chess – in 1928. In an interview with Vanity Fair Chess remarked, "We came from Poland in 1928. That was blues all the time."
Following a period in the army, in 1950, Chess joined his brother Leonard in the music industry. Leonard was a stakeholder in Aristocrat Records, after a while their label renamed, and became the legendary Chess Records.
The Chess brothers' main interest was in R&B, they would sign, and often act as producers for iconic artists like, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Sonny Boy Williamson, Etta James, John Lee Hooker, Elmore James, and Buddy Guy.
In response to the news of Chess's death Buddy Guy told the Sun-Times, "Phil and Leonard Chess were cuttin' the type of music nobody else was paying attention to – Muddy, Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter, Sonny Boy, Jimmy Rogers, I could go on and on – and now you can take a walk down State Street today and see a portrait of Muddy that's 10 stories tall. The Chess Brothers had a lot to do with that. They started Chess Records and made Chicago what it is today, the Blues capital of the world. I'll always be grateful for that."
—The ARTISTdirect Staff