He was born Fiszel Czyż in a Jewish community in Częstochowa, Poland. He and his brother Lejzor, sister Malka and mother followed their father to Chicago in 1928. The family name was changed to Chess, with Lejzor becoming Leonard and Fiszel becoming Philip.
Phil Chess retired to Arizona in 1972. Phil and Leonard Chess were both inducted to the Blues Hall of Fame as non-performers in 1995. In February 2013, Phil Chess attended the ceremony to receive one of The Recording Academy's Trustees Awards for non-performers presented to him and his brother.
^Broven, John (2010). Record Makers and Breakers: Voices of the Independent Rock 'n' Roll Pioneers. United States: First Illinois Paperback. p. 499. ISBN978-0-252-03290-5.|access-date= requires |url= (help)