Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Chess Records co-founder Phil Chess — not just the money guy

Chess Records co-founder Phil Chess — not just the money guy

Phil Chess, the co-founder of Chicago’s great Chess Records who died Tuesday at age 95, was the quieter of the brothers who started the label that launched the careers of Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Etta James, Bo Diddley and so many other important early rock, blues and R&B musicians.

It was Phil’s older brother, Leonard, who usually was in the spotlight — Phil was given only token screen time in “Cadillac Records,” the 2008 feature film about Chess and its stable of musical greats, while Leonard was treated as a key player.

That’s created an impression for many that Phil’s role was largely behind the scenes...

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