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.
Rhythm and blues
Rock and roll
|Country of origin||United States|
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. As with Cadet and Chess, the label's catalog is now owned by Universal Music Group and releases from the Checker catalog are released by Geffen Records and Chess.
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.
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. Among those ten was "Juke" which topped the charts and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008.
Checker released several singles by well-established blues artists such as Elmore James, Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup (credited as Perry Lee Crudup), and Memphis Minnie, none of which sold well. 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.
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, which topped the R&B charts 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. 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.
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.
|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-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|
- ^ David Edwards; Mike Callahan; Randy Watts. "GRT Consolidated Chess/Cadet Album Discography (1971-1975)". Both Sides Now Publications. Retrieved March 14, 2011.
- ^ 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.
- ^ 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.
- ^ a b Giles Oakley (1997). The Devil's Music. Da Capo Press. p. 223/5. ISBN 978-0-306-80743-5.
- ^ a b c Whiburn, Joel (1988). Top R&B Singles 1942–1988. Record Research. ISBN 0-89820-068-7.
- ^ 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.
- ^ 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.
- ^ 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.
- ^ Both Sides Now: Chess Album Discography, Part 1: LP-1425 to LPS-1553 and CHV-400 Vintage Series accessed August 27, 2019.
- ^ Both Sides Now: Checker Album Discography (1957-1971) accessed August 27, 2019.
Media related to Checker Records at Wikimedia Commons
- Checker Records on the Internet Archive's Great 78 Project