The Norvells


The Norvells | NumeroGroup | tc476

Originally called The Belvederes, the Norvells were Billy Smith, Richard Pegue, Claude “Dee-Dee” Wyatt, Victor Trice and Richard Slaughter. The group formed at High School and modelled their sound on The Spaniels. Their current whereabouts are not known.

Marshall Chess remembers Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry’s funeral was attended by a fleet of white cadillacs, and a host of family and celebrities.

Marshall Chess was interviewed by Billboard after the proceedings.

In 1955 I was riding around with my dad Leonard. Back then, car radios had buttons that you programmed to go to your favorite stations, and my dad was a maniac. He never listened to an entire song. He would just keep pushing buttons. That time, though, he pushed a button, on came a song, and my Dad said, “Oh my God,” and slapped the steering wheel. I said, “What’s going on?” And he said, “That’s the number-one white station in Chicago and they just played “Maybellene.”

I had no idea who Chuck Berry was then, but I met him about a year later when my father took me to Alan Freed’s Rock n’ Roll show at the Brooklyn Paramount. Then in 1963, when Chuck got out of prison he drove right to Chicago. I was 21 and working at Chess Records’ offices, and he came in with his guitar and a teeny overnight bag. He wanted to make music and get back to his career.

The last story I told at the funeral was about the last time I saw Chuck. This was probably in the late ‘90s. He was touring with his kids Ingrid and Chuck Jr. and he played B.B. King’s in Times Square. Jamar wanted to meet him, so we went backstage. We were hugging and kissing, the whole thing. He introduced me to his kids, and I introduced him to Jamar. I told him, “You know, Chuck, I’ve never thanked you.” He said, “For what?” I said, “My family’s life changed because of you.” And he looked me in the eye and took my hands and said,” Don’t you know? It’s the same for me.”

Roosevelt Nettles


Roosevelt Nettles With Pat McMahon & Mel Carter | Bob Corritore | tc567

Louisiana native and singer Roosevelt Nettles grew up in New Orleans and sung professionally as a teenager in Mobile, Alabama, then after a period with The Flames he joined the Air Force in 1958 where he formed the Enchanters.

Nettles made Pheonix Arizona his home after his military duties ended in 1962.

He made a local hit which was released nationally on Chess. Nettles and Chess could not agree on a follow-up and his relation with them ended. He steadily performed in the Southwest area opening for Ike & Tina Turner, Sam Cooke, and the Righteous Brothers.

Other websites insist he still resides in the Phoenix area where he worked as a Chef, a skill he learned in the services, and we would be grateful for confirmation of his current whereabouts. Can anyone help, please?

Edna McRaney


Edna McRaney | Robert Campbell | tc566

Chicago based blues singer Edna McRaney recorded a few sides for Chess in 1951. They were recorded for Chess by Jackie Brenston at the Sun Studios in Memphis. We have not been able to locate any biographical information for this artist. Can anyone help, please?

Mitzi Mars


Lupita Peruyero, Joe Louis, Norman Schlossberg, Sarah Vaughan, King Kolax and Mitzi Mars at the Crown Propeller, probably 1952. Courtesy of the Schlossberg family | Crown Propeller Blog | tc565

Mitzi Mars, shown extreme right in the photo above, was a singer with the Sax Mallard band and who recorded for Checker in the early 1950s. We have been unable to trace any biographical information for this artist, can anyone help, please?

Larry Liggett

Laurence “Larry” Liggett was a music teacher in Indianapolis Public Schools who recorded a series of recordings in which he played trumpet or saxophone and sang, for Chess in the mid 1950s. He is deceased, and his son recently attended an event in Indianapolis where his father was enrolled in the Indianapolis music hall of fame.

Johnny Lemac


Johnny Lemac | Copyright control | 17144

Johnny Lemac was a pseudonym for Chicago singer Johnny McKinney, aka John Lee McKinney. He had recorded for a number of small labels under various names including his real name, and sung with some Chicago groups. Only one recording was issued on the Chess label.

Johnny McKinney was born on Jan. 7, 1936 and died on Oct. 17, 2010.

Many thanks to Marc for his help with this artiste.