R.I.P. Phil Chess


Phil Chess, who co-founded Chess Records with his brother Leonard passed yesterday at age 95 at his home in Tucson, Arizona. Chess Records was instrumental in the careers of Chuck Berry, Etta James, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley and many others during 1950’s. The 2008 movie Cadillac Records was about the legendary Chicago record label that became an epicenter of blues, jazz and R&B from its inception in 1950 until the ’70’s when it was sold to General Recorded Tape. Chess and his brother Leonard were Polish immigrants who started their first music enterprise with jazz clubs on the South Side of Chicago in the 1940’s. They briefly owned Chicago’s first 24-hour R&B radio station WVON which stood for Voice of the Negro. They purchased the station so they could get airplay for their artists. The brothers sold Chess Records in 1969 and Leonard and passed later that year. In 1972, Phil retired and moved to Arizona. In 2013, the brothers received a Lifetime Achievement Award from National Academy of the Recording Arts and Sciences.