Phil Chess, co-founder or Chess Records dead at 95

By Wade Sheridan

TUCSON, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- Phil Chess, who co-founded the influential record label Chess records with his brother Leonard, has died at the age of 95.

Phil died Tuesday at his ranch in Tucson, Ariz. according to his daughter Pam who confirmed the news to the Chicago Sun-Times. An exact cause of death was not revealed.


The label head along with his brother is said to have pioneered rock 'n' roll music in the 1950s with the release of what some consider to be the first rock record, "Rocket 88" by artist Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats which included a young Ike Turner.

The Chess brothers are known for signing legendary acts to their label including Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Sonny Boy Williamson, Etta James, John Lee Hooker, Elmore James and Buddy Guy. The duo is also known for producing some of their artists' songs.

The Chess brothers story inspired the 2008 music drama Cadillac Records which starred Adrien Brody as Leonard and Beyonce as Etta James.


Leonard died in 1972 and shortly after Phil retired from the music industry after scoring the label's first Hot 100 Number One single with Chuck Berry's "My-Ding-a-Ling."

The brothers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Blues Hall of Fame in 1995.

Phil is also survived by his son Kevin, four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

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