It is with a great sense of loss that I heard this morning of the death of Phil Chess on Wednesday. With his brother Leonard, he created Chess Records which brought “race” music to a wider audience, helped give birth to rock ‘n’ roll, and in turn inspired a whole generation of British artists such as the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton.
Chess records — which gave us Etta James, Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Buddy Guy, Chuck Berry, and so many more — made Chicago the world capital of the blues. Their popularisation of black music helped spawn the white variant that eventually came to be rock ‘n’ roll.
Phil Chess was 96 years old.