Chief Records

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Chief Records
Messin' with the Kid single cover.jpg
Single label with distinctive
Indian profile design
Founded1957 (1957)
FounderMel London
StatusDefunct
GenreBlues, rhythm and blues
Country of originU.S.
LocationChicago

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", which Muddy Waters later overdubbed a vocal and titled 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 continued 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.[1] 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.[1] During its seven years of operation, Chief/Profile/Age released about 80 singles (including reissues) from approximately 37 artists. Later, various singles (including reissues) by Chief artists were released by All-Points Records, Mel/Mel-Lon Records, Bright Star Records, and Starville Records, but none had the impact of the originals.[1]

Partial discography[edit]

List of releases with year, artist, title, label, and catalogue number
Year Artist Title
(A-side / B-side)
Label Cat. no.
1957 Mel London "Man from the Island" /
"Doggin' Me Around"
Chief 7000
Elmore James "Coming Home" /
"The Twelve Year Old Boy"
Chief 7001
Elmore James "It Hurts Me Too" /
"Elmore's Contribution to Jazz"
Chief 7004
Junior Wells "Two Headed Woman" /
"Lovey Dovey Lovely One"
Chief 7005
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
Lillian Offitt "Will My Man Be Home Tonight" /
"The Man Won't Work"
Chief 7012
Magic Sam &
the Ammons Sisters
"Mister Charlie" /
"My Love Is Your Love"
Chief 7013
Lillian Offitt "Oh Mama" /
"My Man Is a Lover"
Chief 7015
Junior Wells (A) /
Earl Hooker (B)
"Galloping Horses A Lazy Mule" (A) /
"Blues in D Natural" (B)
Chief 7016
Magic Sam "Square Dance Rock Part 1" /
"Square Dance Rock Part 2"
Chief 7017
Elmore James (A) /
Earl Hooker (B)
"Knocking at Your Door" (A) /
"Calling All Blues" (B)
Chief 7020
Junior Wells "Messin' with the Kid" /
"Universal Rock"
Chief 7021
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
Junior Wells "I'm a Stranger" /
"Things I'd Do for You"
Chief 7030
Earl Hooker "Rockin' with the Kid" /
"Rockin' Wild"
Chief 7031
Magic Sam "You Don't Have to Work" /
"Blues Light Boogie"
Chief 7033
Junior Wells "You Sure Look Good to Me" /
"Lovey Dovey Lovely One"
Chief 7034
Junior Wells "It Hurts Me Too" /
"Cha Cha Cha in Blue"
Chief 7035
Junior Wells "So Tired" /
"Love Me"
Chief 7037
Junior Wells "I Need Me a Car" /
"I Could Cry"
Chief 7038
A.C. Reed (A) /
Earl Hooker (B)
"This Little Voice" (A) /
"Apache War Dance" (B)
Age 29101
Ricky Allen "You'd Better Be Sure" /
"You Were My Teacher"
Age 29102
Earl Hooker "Blue Guitar" /
"Swear to Tell the Truth"
Age 29106
1962 Reggie "Guitar" Boyd "Nothing but Poison" /
"Nothing but Good"
Age 29110
Earl Hooker "How Long Can This Go On" /
"These Cotton Pickin' Blues"
Age 29111
A.C. Reed "Mean Cop" /
"That Ain't Right"
Age 29112
Big Moose &
the Jams
"The Bright Sound" a.k.a. "Bright Sounds" /
"Off the Hook"
Age 29113
Earl Hooker &
the Earlettes
"Win the Dance" a.k.a. "Crying Blues" /
"That Man"
Age 29114
1963 Ricky Allen "Cut You A-Loose" /
"Faith"
Age 29118
Jackie Brenston with
Earl Hooker Band
"Want You to Rock Me" /
"Down in My Heart"
Mel-Lon 1000
Earl Hooker "The Leading Brand" /
"Blues in D Natural"
Mel-Lon 1001
1964 A.C. Reed "Lotta Loving" /
"I Stay Mad"
Age 29123
1964 Ricky Allen "Help Me Mama" /
"The Big Fight"
Age 29125

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Danchin 2001, pp. 121, 122.
  2. ^ Herzhaft 1992, p. 141.
  3. ^ Dahl 1996, p. 115.
  4. ^ Whitburn 1988, p. 438.
  5. ^ Whitburn 1988, p. 23.

Sources[edit]

  • Dahl, Bill (1996). "Earl Hooker". In Erlewine, Michael; Bogdanov, Vladimir; Woodstra, Chris; Koda, Cub (eds.). All Music Guide to the Blues. San Francisco: Miller Freeman Books. ISBN 0-87930-424-3.
  • Danchin, Sebastian (2001). Earl Hooker: Blues Master. Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 978-1-57806-307-9.
  • Herzhaft, Gerard (1992). "Earl Hooker". Encyclopedia of the Blues. Fayetteville, Arkansas: University of Arkansas Press. ISBN 1-55728-252-8.
  • Whitburn, Joel (1988). "Artist entries". Top R&B Singles 1942–1988. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research. ISBN 0-89820-068-7.

External links[edit]