Phil Chess, co-founder of the legendary Chicago-based rhythm and blues label Chess Records, which played a pivotal role in the genesis of rock 'n roll in the 1950s, has died at age 95. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Chess died overnight at his home in Tucson, Ariz.
Chess and his brother Leonard, both Polish immigrants, founded the label in 1950 in Chicago and at first focused on blues and R&B, cutting songs by artists including Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon and Memphis Slim. A year after forming, Chess released what many consider to be the first rock single, "Rocket 88" by Jackie Brenston/Ike Turner and his Delta Cats.
In 1955, the Chess brothers began a long a fruitful relationship with rock pioneer Chuck Berry, who just turned 90 this week. Under Chess (or its offshoot Checker Records), Berry recorded the classics “Maybellene,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” "Sweet Little Sixteen" and "Johnny B. Goode,” among others.