Phil Chess, the co-founder of Chess Records, has died aged 95.
Chess’ nephew Craig Glicken confirmed his uncle’s death to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Born Fiszel Czyż, he and his family emigrated to America from Poland in 1928. After a stint in the army, Phil joined his brother Leonard at Aristocrat Records, which they eventually renamed Chess.
Chess Records signings included Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Sonny Boy Williamson, Etta James, John Lee Hooker, Elmore James and Buddy Guy.
Speaking to the Sun-Times, Buddy Guy said, “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.”
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