CHICAGO – Phil Chess, co-founder of a Chicago record label that amassed perhaps the most influential blues catalogue, has died. He was 95.
Nephew Craig Glicken told the Chicago Sun-Times on Wednesday that Chess died overnight in Tucson, Arizona.
Chess and his brother, Leonard, founded Chess Records in 1950, a label that included such stalwarts as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Chuck Berry and Etta James.
The brothers started out with a liquor store, then ran a nightclub and music venue and eventually got into the music recording business, though neither had ever played an instrument.
Their label’s first release was a Gene Ammons’ version of “My Foolish Heart.” Then came Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ Stone” – a song so influential it became the name of the English rock band and the magazine.