Checker Records is an inactive record label that was started in 1952 as a subsidiary of Chess Records in Chicago, Illinois. The label was founded by the Chess brothers, Leonard and Phil, who ran the label until they sold it to General Recorded Tape (GRT) in 1969, shortly before Leonard's death.

Checker Records
Founded1952 (1952)
FounderLeonard Chess
Phil Chess
Rhythm and blues
Rock and roll
Country of originUnited States
LocationChicago, Illinois

The label released recordings by mostly African American artists and groups. Checker's releases cover a wide range of genres including blues (Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson II), rhythm and blues (Sax Mallard, Jimmy McCracklin), doo-wop (The Flamingos, The Moonglows), gospel (Aretha Franklin, Five Blind Boys of Mississippi), rock and roll (Bo Diddley, Dale Hawkins), and soul (Gene Chandler).

The label was discontinued in 1971 following GRT's consolidation of the Chess catalogs.[1] As with Cadet and Chess, the label's catalog is now owned by Universal Music Group[2] and releases from the Checker catalog are released by Geffen Records and Chess.

History edit

Due to the recent expansion of Chess Records, as well as to achieve greater airplay for singles, the Chess brothers opened up a subsidiary label named Checker. The first 45/78 rpm single released by the label was "Slow Caboose" b/w "Darling, Let's Give Love a Chance" by Sax Mallard and his Orchestra, which was released as Checker 750 in April 1952.[3]

The label's most popular artist, in the label's early years, was Little Walter, who had ten songs released by Checker that made the Top Ten of Billboard magazine's Top Rhythm & Blues Records charts.[4] Among those ten was "Juke" which topped the charts[5] and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008.[6]

Checker released several singles by well-established blues artists such as Elmore James,[4] Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup (credited as Perry Lee Crudup), and Memphis Minnie, none of which sold well.[3][7] One well-established blues artist that did manage to make a hit on Checker was Sonny Boy Williamson II, who charted with "Don't Start Me Talkin'" (number 3) in 1955, "Keep It to Yourself" (number 14) in 1956, and "Help Me" (number 24) in 1963.[5]

On March 2, 1955, the Chess brothers recorded their first rock and roll artist, Bo Diddley. From this session came Bo's self-titled debut single on Checker,[7] which topped the R&B charts[5] and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998. Another one of Bo Diddley's Checker singles, "Who Do You Love?", was inducted in 2010.[6] In 1957, Checker cracked into the rockabilly market with Dale Hawkins, who had a crossover hit with "Susie Q", although he could not repeat the single's success.

In 1958, Checker released its first 12" 33⅓ rpm LP record, The Best of Little Walter, which was released as Checker LP-1428.[8]

Discography edit

The original Checker LP series started with six albums released as part of the Chess 1425 album series before switching to the 2970 series in 1959 and continued until 1970.[9][10]

Catalog No. Album Artist Details
LP-1428 The Best of Little Walter Little Walter
LP-1429 Oh! Suzy-Q Dale Hawkins
LP-1431 Bo Diddley Bo Diddley
LP-1433 The Flamingos The Flamingos
LP-1436 Go Bo Diddley Bo Diddley
LP-1437 Down and Out Blues Sonny Boy Williamson
LP-2971 Keeping Tab Tab Smith
LP-2973 Love Those Goodies Various Artists
LP-2974 Have Guitar Will Travel Bo Diddley
LP-2975 Hits That Jumped Various Artists
LP-2976 Bo Diddley in the Spotlight Bo Diddley
LP-2977 Bo Diddley Is a Gunslinger Bo Diddley
LP-2978 Watusi! The Vibrations
LP-2979 Sugar Pie DeSanto Sugar Pie DeSanto
LP-2980 Bo Diddley Is a Lover Bo Diddley
LP-2981 Twist with Steve Alaimo Steve Alaimo
LP-2982 Bo Diddley's a Twister Bo Diddley
LP-2983 Mashed Potatoes Steve Alaimo
LP-2984 Bo Diddley Bo Diddley
LP-2985 Bo Diddley & Company Bo Diddley
LP-2986 Every Day I Have to Cry Steve Alaimo
LP-2987 Surfin' with Bo Diddley Bo Diddley
LP-2988 Bo Diddley's Beach Party Bo Diddley
LP-2989 Bo Diddley's 16 All Time Greatest Hits Bo Diddley
LP-2990 Hi-Heel Sneakers Tommy Tucker
LP/LPS-2991 Two Great Guitars Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry
LP-2992 Hey Good Lookin' Bo Diddley
LP-2993 Hold On! It's Joe Tex Joe Tex
LP/LPS-2994 Dance with Daddy "G" Gene Barge
LP/LPS-2995 We're Gonna Make It Little Milton
LP/LPS-2996 500% More Man Bo Diddley
LP/LPS-2997 The "New" Look Fontella Bass
LP/LPS-2998 Sing a Song of Soul Various Artists
LP/LPS-3000 Searching for My Love Bobby Moore & the Rhythm Aces
LP/LPS-3001 The Originator Bo Diddley
LP/LPS-3002 Little Milton Sings Big Blues Little Milton
LP/LPS-3003 The Duke of Soul Gene Chandler
LP-3004 The Best of Little Walter Little Walter reissue of Checker LP-1428
LPS-3005 The Flamingos The Flamingos reissue of Checker LP-1433
LP-3006 Go Bo Diddley Bo Diddley reissue of Checker LP-1436
LP-3007 Boss Man Bo Diddley reissue of Checker LP-1431
LP/LPS-3008 Super Blues Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley and Little Walter
LP/LPS-3010 The Super Super Blues Band Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley
LPS-3011 Grits Ain't Groceries Little Milton
LPS-3012 If Walls Could Talk Little Milton
LPS-3013 The Black Gladiator Bo Diddley
LPS-3014 In the Beginning... Various Artists
LPS-3015 Hot Wheels Stan Farlow
LPS-3016 Born to Love Me Jimmy Reeves Jr.
CK-3017 The Prayer Ray Scott

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ David Edwards; Mike Callahan; Randy Watts. "GRT Consolidated Chess/Cadet Album Discography (1971-1975)". Both Sides Now Publications. Retrieved March 14, 2011.
  2. ^ Gillett, Charlie (1996). The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll (2nd ed.). New York City, New York: Da Capo Press. p. 79. ISBN 0-306-80683-5.
  3. ^ a b George R. White; Robert L. Campbell; Tom Kelly. "The Chess Label Part I (1950–1952)". Robert Campbell. Clemson, South Carolina: Clemson University. Retrieved March 14, 2011.
  4. ^ a b Giles Oakley (1997). The Devil's Music. Da Capo Press. p. 223/5. ISBN 978-0-306-80743-5.
  5. ^ a b c Whiburn, Joel (1988). Top R&B Singles 1942–1988. Record Research. ISBN 0-89820-068-7.
  6. ^ a b "Grammy Hall of Fame". Grammy Awards. United States: National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on January 22, 2011. Retrieved March 14, 2011.
  7. ^ a b George R. White; Robert L. Campbell; Tom Kelly. "The Chess Label Part II (1953–1955)". Robert Campbell. Clemson, South Carolina: Clemson University. Retrieved March 14, 2011.
  8. ^ Past Hall of Fame Inductees Archived 2012-07-17 at the Wayback Machine. Blues Foundation. Go under 1991 Hall of Fame Inductees and click on The Best of Little Walter--Little Walter (Checker, 1958) to view the album review.
  9. ^ Both Sides Now: Chess Album Discography, Part 1: LP-1425 to LPS-1553 and CHV-400 Vintage Series accessed August 27, 2019.
  10. ^ Both Sides Now: Checker Album Discography (1957–1971) accessed August 27, 2019.

External links edit

  Media related to Checker Records at Wikimedia Commons