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Chicago's Record Row Archives

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The deep grooves of Chicago's Record Row will never go away.
Like waves from Lake Michigan, American roots music roared out of South Michigan Avenue from the late 1950s through the 1970s.

Popular music would be changed forever.

Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters recorded at the Chess Records Studio, 2120 S. Michigan. This is where the Rolling Stones made their 1964 album "12 X 5," birthing blues into rock n' roll. Further on up the road the Vee Jay and Brunswick offices and studio were established at 1449 S. Michigan.

The Beatles first American exposure was on Vee Jay; the single "Please Please Me" being released in February, 1963 as the Beattles. Chicago treasures the Staple Singers recorded their first gospel hit "Uncloudy Day" with Vee Jay in 1962. After Vee Jay went bankrupt in 1966, the building was sold to Brunswick Records, who recorded the Chi-Lites, Jackie Wilson, Tyrone Davis and the Young-Holt Trio.

In May of 2011 I learned the Vee-Jay/Brunswick building was for sale.

This led to a series of seven stories and a Sun-Times editorial, which are all chronicled here:

Besides offering a resource for back stories, this is a place to share Record Row anecdotes, to network about Record Row developments and an opportunity for locals and tourists to comment on their experiences along Record Row. I get the occasional e-mail from the English or Dutch visitor reflecting on a stroll through the Chess studio. Bring it on.

The Sun-Times stories have helped inspire redevelopment in the neighborhood, which stretches as far south as 2300 South Michigan. The rock band Cheap Trick plans to open Cheap Trick Chicago, an eatery, museum, radio station and performance space at 2245 S. Michigan. The proximity of the McCormick Place makes the new Record Row attractive to developers and tourists.

The Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau is making a major push to increase the number of overseas visitors to the city in 2012. Expect television ads, online campaigns and even overseas offices. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Chicago currently ranks 10th (even behind Boston) with 1.1 million overseas visitors in 2010. I've read a great deal about how the tourism bureau plans to spin this and there's emphasis on shopping, the lake and great restaurants.

USA Today has just published a 56 page guide to Chicago on how to "Be The Ultimate Insider." There's a section on shopping, literary tours and even Chicago as a "destination for movie buffs."

There is not one word in the guide about Chicago music.

And there's an ad with Dolly Parton promoting Sevierville, Tn. on the back of the special edition.


I never read about music as a tourism tool for Chicago.
The city is missing the boat.
Look what is has done for Austin, Tx., Memphis, Nashville, Tn. and New Orleans.

Chicago has one of the most diverse pedigrees of American music. The sound was born in the south and in Bronzeville, just several blocks south of Record Row.
But it came of age along this historic gateway.

Come along to see how it develops.

Gene Chandler and Barbara Acklin.jpg

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Thought I'd give you some information on Bobby Whiteside who worked for Chess in the Mid 60's. Here's a brief Bio of a great Talent and Producer:

BOBBY WHITESIDE- Career Highlights

• CHESS RECORDS-Hired by the legendary Leonard Chess to start a white pop division of Chess Records during the mid 60s-wwas exposed to over 300 recording sessions with blues greats, Howling Wolf, Muddy Waters,Willie Dixon,Billy Stewart,Minnie Ripperton,Etta James and so many more Chess artists giving Bobby heavy r&b / blues roots.

*PRODUCER/WRITER/ARRANGER-many of the early rock groups during the : Flock, Rivieras,Family,Shames etc
*SAY IT SOFTLY-produced wrote arranged and sang top 10 in 1965. Was an artist on USA, Destination, Mercury and Gregar [RCA].

*BITTERSWEET STORIES- [ARTIST –arranger-- producer- engineer] only white artist signed by Curtis Mayfield [Superfly]-Bittersweet Stories album Curtom Records/Warner Bros 1974-

*LIVE PERFORMANCE-extensive national stage experience clubs & concerts [sang/played guitar/piano/bass/drums/trumpet/trombone]

*COMIN IN AND OUT OF YOUR LIFE -Co-wrote this records 1981 number 1 record by Barbara Streisand [sold over 9

*CONDUCTED +ARRANGED a 76 piece Hollywood orchestra for a Streisand [live] where she recorded 2 more of his songs.

*WROTE SONGS on three platinum Streisand albums a platinum and a gold Johnny Mathis album in the 80's :other songs recorded by Walter Jackson, Paul Anka, the Dells. Ray Goodman & Brown. Rex Smith,Rachel Dennison and Nana Mouscouri in Europe.

*ARRANGED for, produced and conducted numerous orchestras in NY/LA/Chicago/London [including London Symphony Orchestra] for film, corporate and recording projects

*WORKED WITH top singers / musicians / artists in New York, LA, Chicago, London, Memphis,Atlanta, Nashville England & Australia. [Some of the great talent included: Skunk Baxter/Elliott Randall [Reelin in the Years]/Steve Gadd/ Richard Tee/ Paul Schaeffer/Cj Vanston/ Billy Cobham/Brecker Brothers / Shelley Mann/ Ray Brown/ Ronnie Dante [Archies]/Jesse ColinYoung [Get Together],Lloyd Price, The Dells/ Toni Wine/ David Bickler [Survivor}/ Red Fox, The Treniers/,Dick Clark concerts/Stephanie Fuller/Michael Boddicker/Edie Lehman
Barrett Deems/ Johnny Winter /Ron Oates / Charlie McCoy/ Jimmy Nichols/ Morris Jennings. Louis Satterfield [Chess]Cornell DuPree / Eric Gale/ Hal Blaine/Urbie Green /Johnny Frigo/ Thom Bresch/ Bruce Gaitch/James Newton Howard/ Harold Wheeler/ Jerry Hey and Seawind/ Phil Upchurch/Curtis Mayfield, the Impressions/ Barbara Streisand/ Phil Ramone/Jeff Beck/ Earl Palmer/ Harvey Mason/ Tower of Power Horns/Rick Marotta/Tom Scott/ Patti Austin/Lee Greenwood /Pete Cetera and Davy Jones[Monkey/, Singers Unlimited/ Robert Bowker/Linda November/Edison Lighthouse/so many more of the best of Chicago New ¥ork ,LA and London..too many to mention them all.

*ARTIST DEVELOPMENT-worked as manager/ publisher/ producer helped start the careers of many including Tiffany and Survivor

*RADIO AND TV COMERCIALS-wrote, recorded, arranged ,produced 12 million dollars worth of commercials for 1000 different clients.

*ADVERTISING AWARDS: 3 Clio awards,14 clio nominations, Windy City ,Best in the West, Music City , Awards from New York, Hollywood ,London , Chicago, Cannes Film name a few

*THEME MUSIC-created theme music for CBS sports, children’s shows, network news, and numerous radio and television stations

NASHVILLE- moved to Nashville in 1994 to focus on writing, production publishing, and among the things that happened: .GUYS DO IT ALL THE TIME by Mindy McCready on BNA went #1, [ album went double platinum[with over 1.6 million airplays] and is on 6 compilations. Cletus Judd cut WIVES DO IT and Randy Travis cut BRINKS TRUCK & DON’T EVER SELL YOUR SADDLE made the Randy Travis inspirational album and was used on TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL; Many pop songs on projects in Europe (he has produced, arranged, conducted ,sung on, played on and engineered over 8000 sessions) COMING IN AND OUT OF YOUR LIFE re-released on the Streisand classics album and sold another 2 million. Keeps finding his songs he never knew were recorded on youtube.[aren't we all]

CURRENTLY: Setting up a new publishing operation and putting the finishing touches on a MacPro Computer studio with 32 GB of ram,8 terabytes of internal hard drives, unlimited external drives Protools,Logic, Waves and about 50 major music programs, software, samples and sound libraries,tube compressors,multiple guitars and keyboards... ready to record everything from symphonic to new age to hip-hop to rock to country.

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Dave Hoekstra

Dave Hoekstra has been a Chicago Sun-Times staff writer since 1985. His collection of Sun-Times travel columns, "Ticket To Everywhere," was published in 2000 by Lake Claremont Press. He was lead writer for "Farm Aid: Song for America" (Rodale Press, 2005) which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Willie Nelson inspired effort.
He won a 1987 Chicago Newspaper Guild Stick O-Type Award for Column Writing. Hoekstra wrote and co-proudced the WTTW-Channel 11 PBS special: "The Staple Singers and the Civil Rights Movement," nominated for a 2001-02 Chicago Emmy for a documentary program/cultural significance.
He lives in Chicago.


Chicago's Record Row In addition to being a resource for archived stories, this is a place to share anecdotes about Chicago's Record Row, to network about Record Row developments and an opportunity for locals and tourists to comment on their experiences along Record Row.


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This page contains a single entry by David Hoekstra published on December 19, 2011 7:09 PM.

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