Chief Records

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Chief Records
Messin' with the Kid single cover.jpg
Founded 1957 (1957)
Founder Mel London
Status Defunct
Genre Blues, rhythm and blues
Country of origin U.S.
Location Chicago, Illinois

Chief Records, together with its Profile and Age subsidiaries, was an independent record label that operated from 1957 to 1964. Best known for its recordings of Chicago blues artists Elmore James, Junior Wells, Magic Sam, and Earl Hooker, the label had a diverse roster and included R&B artists Lillian Offitt and Ricky Allen.

Chief Records was founded in Chicago in 1957 by Mel London, a 25-year-old R&B entrepreneur.[1] London served as producer and wrote several of the label's best-known songs. Earl Hooker, one of the most well-regarded blues guitarists of his era,[2][3] was an important contributor to the label. He worked closely with London and "was involved in over a dozen recording sessions, and his playing was featured on some forty titles and twenty-five singles, a dozen of which were released under his own name, the rest being ascribed to Junior Wells, A.C. Reed, Lillian Offitt, and Ricky Allen".[1] Among Hooker's recordings are several slide-guitar instrumentals, including the 1961 Age single "Blue Guitar", on which Muddy Waters would later overdub a vocal and call it "You Shook Me".

"Little by Little", written by Mel London, was a hit for Junior Wells, reaching number 23 in the Billboard R&B chart in 1960.[4] Wells would continue to perform and record several of his Chief and Profile songs ("Messin' with the Kid", "Come on in This House", and "It Hurts Me Too") during his career. "Cut You Loose", another London composition, was a hit for Ricky Allen; the song reached number 20 in 1963.[5] Next to Wells, Allen had the most singles on the label (all on Age).

As with many independent blues labels in the early 1960s, Chief was plagued by financial problems.[6] First to be discontinued were the Chief and Profile labels; finally the Age label was discontinued in 1964 and the company went out of business.[6] During its seven years of operation, Chief/Profile/Age released about eighty singles (including reissues) from approximately thirty-seven artists. Later, various singles (including reissues) by Chief artists would be released by All-Points Records, Mel/Mel-Lon Records, Bright Star Records, and Starville Records, but none had the impact of the originals.[6]

Selective discography[edit]

Year Artist Titles Label Cat. No.
1957 Mel London "Man from the Island" / "Doggin' Me Around" Chief 7000
1957 Elmore James "Coming Home" / "The Twelve Year Old Boy" Chief 7001
1957 Elmore James "It Hurts Me Too" / "Elmore's Contribution to Jazz" Chief 7004
1957 Junior Wells "Two Headed Woman" / "Lovey Dovey Lovely One" Chief 7005
1957 Elmore James "Cry for Me" / "Take Me Where You Go" Chief 7006
1958 Junior Wells "I Could Cry" / "Cha Cha Cha in Blue" Chief 7008
1960 Junior Wells "Little By Little" / "Come on in This House" Profile 4011
1960 Lillian Offitt "Will My Man Be Home Tonight" / "The Man Won't Work" Chief 7012
1960 Magic Sam & the Ammons Sisters "Mister Charlie" / "My Love Is Your Love" Chief 7013
1960 Lillian Offit "Oh Mama" / "My Man Is a Lover" Chief 7015
1960 Junior Wells (A) / Earl Hooker (B) "Galloping Horses" (A) / "Blues in D Natural" (B) Chief 7016
1960 Magic Sam "Square Dance Rock Part 1" / "Square Dance Rock Part 2" Chief 7017
1960 Elmore James (A) / Earl Hooker (B) "Knocking at Your Door" (A) / "Calling All Blues" (B) Chief 7020
1960 Junior Wells "Messin' with the Kid" / "Universal Rock" Chief 7021
1960 Junior Wells "You Don't Care" / "Prison Bars All Around Me" Profile 4013
1961 Magic Sam "Every Night About This Time" / "Do the Camel Walk" Chief 7026
1961 Junior Wells "I'm a Stranger" / "Things I'd Do for You" Chief 7030
1961 Earl Hooker "Rockin' with the Kid" / "Rockin' Wild" Chief 7031
1961 Magic Sam "You Don't Have to Work" / "Blues Light Boogie" Chief 7033
1961 Junior Wells "You Sure Look Good to Me" / "Lovey Dovey Lovely One" Chief 7034
1961 Junior Wells "It Hurts Me Too" / "Cha Cha Cha in Blue" Chief 7035
1961 Junior Wells "So Tired" / "Love Me" Chief 7037
1961 Junior Wells "I Need Me a Car" / "I Could Cry" Chief 7038
1961 A.C. Reed (A) / Earl Hooker (B) "This Little Voice" (A) / "Apache War Dance" (B) Age 29101
1961 Ricky Allen "You'd Better Be Sure" / "You Were My Teacher" Age 29102
1961 Earl Hooker "Blue Guitar" / "Swear to Tell the Truth" Age 29106
1962 Reggie "Guitar" Boyd "Nothing but Poison" / "Nothing but Good" Age 29110
1962 Earl Hooker "How Long Can This Go On" / "These Cotton Picking Blues" Age 29111
1962 A.C. Reed "Mean Cop" / "That Ain't Right" Age 29112
1962 Big Moose & the Jams "Off the Hook" / "Bright Sounds" Age 29113
1962 Earl Hooker & the Earlettes "Win the Dance" aka "Crying Blues" / "That Man" Age 29114
1963 Ricky Allen "Cut You A-Loose" / "Faith" Age 29118
1963 Jackie Brenston with Earl Hooker Band "Want You to Rock Me" / "Down in My Heart" Mel-Lon 1000
1963 Earl Hooker "The Leading Brand" / "Blues in D Natural" Mel-Lon 1001
1964 A.C. Reed "Whole Lotta Lovin'" / "I Stay Mad" Age 29123

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Danchin, Sebastian (2001). Earl Hooker: Blues Master. University of Mississippi Press. p. 121. ISBN 978-1-57806-307-9. 
  2. ^ Herzhaft, Gerard (1992). "Earl Hooker". Encyclopedia of the Blues. University of Arkansas Press. p. 141. ISBN 1-55728-252-8. 
  3. ^ Dahl, Bill (1996). Erlewine, Michael, ed. All Music Guide to the Blues. Miller Freeman Books. p. 115. ISBN 0-87930-424-3. 
  4. ^ Whitburn 1988, p. 438.
  5. ^ Whitburn 1988, p. 23.
  6. ^ a b c Danchin 2001, p. 122.

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