The owners of Chess Records announced that they had reached a deal with General Recorded Tape (GRT) to sell the legendary Chicago imprint today (November 2, 1968).
Although a purchase price was not available when the deal was announced, Leonard and Phill Chess, the brothers who owned the label, received a lump sum of cash upfront ($6.5 million), as well as stock in GRT.
GRT purchased the three labels that the Chess brothers operated: Chess Records, Cadet, Checker and Concept Records.
GRT also purchased the Chess brothers’ recording studios, pressing plants and other companies.
The Chess brothers held onto the Chess publishing companies, Arc and Regent Music.
Chess Records was launched in 1947 as Aristocrat records, after Leonard and Phil purchased a stake in the company.
They soon named it Chess Records and almost immediately begin releasing records that would be central to the development of black music.
The group released records like “Rocket 88” by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats, as well as sides on Howling Wolf, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, The Dells, Etta James, The Flamingos, The Moonglows, Fontella Bass, Tony Clarke, Gene Chandler, Billy Stewart, Minnie Ripperton, The Radiants, Ramsey Lewis and numerous others.