Cobra Records

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Cobra Records
I Can't Quit You Baby.jpg
Label of first single issued by Cobra with distinctive name design
Founded1956 (1956)
FounderEli Toscano
Defunct1959 (1959)
GenreBlues, rhythm and blues
Country of originUnited States
LocationChicago, Illinois

Cobra Records (together with its Artistic subsidiary) was an independent record label that operated from 1956–1959. The label launched the careers of Chicago blues artists Otis Rush, Magic Sam, and Buddy Guy and "signaled the arrival of a new generation of blues artists and a new sound ... to be called the West Side Sound."[1]

Cobra was started on Chicago's West Side in 1956 by Eli Toscano, a record-store- and television-repair-shop owner, with help from promoter Howard Bedno.[2] When his previous record label, Abco Records, failed to generate much interest, Toscano approached Willie Dixon about working for Cobra.[3] Dissatisfied with his arrangement with Chess Records, Dixon joined Cobra. There he served in many capacities, including talent scout, producer, arranger, songwriter, bassist, and became "the artistic vision behind Cobra Records."[4]

First to record for Cobra was Otis Rush. His single "I Can't Quit You Baby" became a hit, spending six weeks in the Billboard R&B chart, where it reached number six in 1956.[5] Rush recorded another seven singles for Cobra, described as "defining moments of Chicago blues."[6] In 1957 Magic Sam recorded his signature song "All Your Love" and released four singles on Cobra. Buddy Guy released two singles in 1958 on Cobra's Artistic Records subsidiary.

From 1956–1958 Cobra issued singles by a variety of acts, including Ike Turner and several blues veterans. However, by 1959 financial troubles overtook the company and it went out of business. Eli Toscano died in 1967;[7][8] Howard Bedno "went on to become one of the leading "indie" promotion men in the United States" (died 2006); and Willie Dixon returned to Chess and entered one of the most prolific periods of his career (died 1992).[9] The Cobra catalogue was subsequently purchased by Stan Lewis of Jewel/Paula/Ron Records. Most of the Cobra (and Artistic) recordings (57 tracks, including several alternate and outtakes) were released on The Cobra Records Story: Chicago Rock and Blues 1956–1958 by Capricorn Records in 1993.[4] In 2013, 40 songs from the Cobra catalogue were released on a two-CD set, titled Double Trouble: The Cobra Record Story.[10]


Cobra Records[edit]

Number Artist Titles Year
5000 * Otis Rush "I Can't Quit You Baby" / "Sit Down Baby" 1956
5001 The Clouds "Rock and Roll Boogie" / "I Do"
5002 Shakey Horton "Have a Good Time" / "Need My Baby"
5003 The Calvaes "Fine Girl" / "Mambo Fiesta"
5004 Harold Burrage & His Combo "One More Dance" / "You Eat Too Much"
5005 Otis Rush & His Band "Violent Love" / "My Love Will Never Die"
5006 Sunnyland Slim "It's You Baby" / "Highway 61" 1957
5007 Lee Jackson "Fishin' in My Pond" / "I'll Just Keep Walkin'"
5008 Gloria Irving "I Need a Man" / "For You and Only You"
5009 Duke Jenkins Orchestra "Something Else" / "The Duke Walks"
5010 Otis Rush "Groaning the Blues" / "If You Were Mine"
5011 Little Willy Foster "Crying the Blues" / "Little Girl"
5012 Harold Burrage "Messed Up" / "I Don't Care Who Knows"
5013 Magic Sam "All Your Love" / "Love Me with a Feeling"
5014 The Calvaes "Born with Rhythm" / "Lonely Lonely Village"
5015 Otis Rush "Love That Woman" / "Jump Sister Bessie"
5016 Clarence Jolly "Changing Love" / "Don't Leave Me"
5017 Guitar Shorty "You Don't Treat Me Right" / "Irma Lee"
5018 Harold Burrage "Stop for the Red Light" / "Satisfied"
5019 Betty Everett "My Life Depends on You" / "My Love"
5020 Duke Jenkins Orchestra "Where Can My Loved One Be" / "Shake It"
5021 Magic Sam "Everything Gonna Be Alright" / "Look Whatcha Done" 1958
5022 Harold Burrage, Willie Dixon Band "She Knocks Me Out" / "A Heart (Filled with Pain)"
5023 Otis Rush with Willie Dixon Orchestra "Three Times a Fool" / "She's a Good 'Un"
5024 Betty Everett "Ain't Gonna Cry" / "Killer Diller"
5025 Magic Sam "All Night Long" / "All My Whole Life"
5026 Harold Burrage & His Band "I Cry for You" / "Betty Jean"
5027 Otis Rush "It Takes Time" / "Checking on My Baby"
5028 Jimmy & Kelly The Rock-a-Beats "Little Chickie" / "Bonnie"
5029 Magic Sam "Easy Baby" / "21 Days in Jail"
5030 Otis Rush & His Band "Double Trouble" / "Keep on Loving Me, Baby"
5031 Betty Everett & Willie Dixon Band "I'll Weep No More" / "Tell Me, Darling"
5032 Otis Rush & His Band "All Your Love (I Miss Loving)" / "My Baby's a Good 'Un"
5033 Ike Turner's Kings of Rhythm "Walking Down the Aisle" / "Box Top" 1959

* Also issued as Chief 8000 in 1956[11][12]

Artistic Records[edit]

Number Artist Titles Year
1500 Charles Clark & Willie Dixon Band "Row Your Boat" / "Hidden Charms" 1958
1501 Buddy Guy & His Band "Sit and Cry (The Blues)" / "Try to Quit You Baby"
1502 Shakey Jake Harris & Willie Dixon Band "Roll Your Moneymaker" / "Call Me if You Need Me"
1503 Buddy Guy & His Band "This Is the End" / "You Sure Can't Do" 1959
1504 Ike Turner's Kings of Rhythm "(I Know) You Don't Love Me" / "Down and Out"

Abco Records[edit]

Number Artist Titles Year
100 Arbee Stidham "I'll Always Remember You" / "Meet Me Half Way" 1956
101 Herby Joe "Smoke Stack Lightning" / "Dreamed (Last Night)"
102 Zona Sago's Modern Sounds "Short Order" / "Jivin' at Random"
103 Freddie Hall & the Aces "Can't This Be Mine" / "Playin' Hard to Get"
104 Louis Myers & the Aces "Just Whaling" / "Bluesy"
105 Rip-Chords "I Love You the Most" / "Let's Do the Razzle Dazzle"
106 Morris Pejoe "Screaming and Crying" / "Maybe Blues"
107 Arbee Stidham "When I Find My Baby" / "Please Let It Be Me'" 1957


  1. ^ Bedno, Haig & Snowden 1993, p. 14.
  2. ^ Bedno, Haig & Snowden 1993, pp. 2, 8.
  3. ^ Dixon & Snowden 1989, p. 105.
  4. ^ a b Bedno, Haig & Snowden 1993, p. 2.
  5. ^ Whitburn 1988, p. 361.
  6. ^ Coda 1996, p. 230.
  7. ^ Broven 2009, p. 127.
  8. ^ According to Snowden, Toscano died in 1959. Bedno, Haig & Snowden 1993, p. 18.
  9. ^ Bedno, Haig & Snowden 1993, p. 7.
  10. ^ Heatley 2013, p. 1.
  11. ^ Hoppula, Pete (May 31, 2006). "Cobra Records – Discography". Retrieved August 10, 2009.
  12. ^ "45 Discography for Cobra Records". Global Dog Productions. 2005. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016. Retrieved August 10, 2009.