On August 4, S-Curve Records will release Elise LeGrow’s debut album ‘Playing Chess’ a collection of dramatically reimagined songs from the Chess Records catalogue.
Produced by soul legend Betty Wright, S-Curve Records founder Steve Greenberg, and studio wizard Michael Mangini, the album features eleven tracks with contributions by special guests.
The track list includes “Can’t Judge a Book, ” “Who Do You Love, ” and “Rescue Me”.
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.”
Chuck Berry | Uncredited and undated photo | 16483ch
Chuck Berry chose his 90th birthday to announce his first album in almost four decades. The album, “Chuck”, will consist mainly of original songs written, recorded and produced by himself. Berry made the surprise announcement on Tuesday, his birthday.
“This record is dedicated to my beloved Toddy,” said Berry in a statement, referring to his wife of 68 years. “My darlin’ I’m growing old! I’ve worked on this record for a long time. Now I can hang up my shoes!” he added.
Phil Chess | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty | 16482
Phil Chess, who co-founded the legendary label Chess Records with his brother Leonard and helped make Chicago the epicenter of the blues, died Wednesday at his home in Tucson, Arizona, his nephew Craig Glicken confirmed. He was 95 and had been in good health.
Born Fiszel Czyż in Poland in 1921, Chess’ family immigrated to Chicago and changed their last name to Chess in 1928. After a stint in the army, in 1950 Chess joined his brother Leonard – who purchased a stake of Aristocrat Records – in the music business. Their label was eventually renamed Chess Records.
Today, Buddy Guy told the Chicago Sun-Times: “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.”
Chess Treasures sends condolences to family, friends and colleagues.
Morris Jennings | Jennings Family
Chess Treasures is sad to learn of the passing of legendary Chess drummer Morris Jennings, who has died aged 77 of natural causes on June 3rd 2016.
Mr Jennings can be heard on records by Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and Ramsey Lewis.
“He was on several of my albums,” said Ramsey Lewis. “I’m sure he was on not only a couple that went gold, but a couple that won Grammys.” Lewis described him as rock solid and versatile. “Morris Jennings was like the Rock of Gibraltar. He kept almost perfect time.”
Jennings was born in East St. Louis, but moved with his family to Chicago when he was just a toddler and graduated from DuSable High School, where he became interested in music. He was in his early 20s when he started working for Chess. Gene Barge was a staff member with Chess in charge of the rhythm section that included Jennings and Maurice White.
“He was our drummer for a good while at Chess,” Barge said. “He was just a dedicated musician. He wasn’t fancy, he was just very good.”
Maurice White | Rob Verhorst / Redferns / Getty | 16111ch
The death has been announced of Chess musician and singer Maurice White, who was associated closely with Cadet recording artistes Rotary Connection.
White was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on December 11, 1941He became interested in drums and percussion by watching local marching bands. Later he attended Booker T. Washington High School, then moved north to study at the Chicago Conservatory of Music. At the end of the sixties, he brought his band to Los Angeles, and changed its name to Earth, Wind & Fire.
Bobby Rush | Uncredited/Hoodline | 16076ch
Hoodline profiles Bobby Rush, who has reached the grand age of 82.
Born in Homer, La. in 1933, Rush cut his musical teeth in the Pine Bluff, Ark. area with the likes of Elmore James and Big Moose Walker. A move to Chicago in the 1950s put him in the company of Muddy Waters and Jimmy Reed, and led to sessions at the city’s Chess Records. 1971’s “Chicken Heads” proved his breakthrough, notching #34 on the Billboard R&B chart. He since recorded for a variety of labels and relocated in the 1980s to the Deep South, where he became one of the kings of the Chitlin’ Circuit. His crossover began largely in the early 2000s when he was included in the Martin Scorese-produced, Clint Eastwood-directed The Blues documentary for PBS. Since then, he’s received three Grammy nominations and 41 Blues Music Award nominations (of which he’s won ten, including 2015’s award for B.B. King Entertainer of the Year).
… “It’s very exciting. Truly I feel honored that someone would think enough of me to do this. The record side of it is the glory side of me and that’s the side that I want people to know and I’m grateful for that. I’m happy that someone thought before I leave this land to tell my story. I’m proud of it and flattered about it. I want the world to know that this is my first time and I want to say it for people to be enthused about me. I’m not enthused about all of the songs because at the time I didn’t think they were all good. But after you become a ‘legend,’ you look back and it all looks good. There are things you had in the can you didn’t want to put out, and then you get asked what you have in the can that’s never been heard to put it out,”