Saturday, December 06, 2008

NPR Reports on Chess Records Movies

I heard an interesting report by NPR's Neda Ulaby, which I thought you all would enjoy listening to and or reading. The radio report titled A Hollywood Makeover For Chess Records brings up details about the recent movies about Chess Records, Cadillac Records and Who Do You Love.

A couple of the points that I found most interesting was how both movies take some liberties with the facts. One question I had was did Lenored Chess really fool around with some of his female musicians? And what happened to Phil Chess in these movies?

I found the following quote by Leonard Chess' son, Marshall, to be very interesting;

He says the family's history is distorted in both films. Marshall Chess more or less grew up at Chess Records and worked there before the label was sold in 1969. He went on to become managing director of Rolling Stones Records. He's most upset that the bigger movie, Cadillac Records, cut out his uncle Phil entirely.

"That's horrible," Chess says. "It's like you make a movie about flight with the Wright brothers and you cut out one brother."

He says he's also irked by subplots suggesting that his father committed adultery — pure fiction, he insists. And he defends Chess Records' reputation for giving out cars instead of royalties — which is suggested in the title, Cadillac Records.

"Yes, we helped our artists who wanted to get Cadillacs get them," Chess says. "You have to understand, in that era, our artists did not have bank accounts (or) credit lines. So if they wanted a Cadillac bad enough and they pestered Phil and my father, we would set them up."
Later in the report he says;
"My father evolved," Chess says, "from an immigrant to a bar owner in the ghetto to wanting to make money — seeing black people make the first real money of their lives [and] wanting to get a piece of it — to falling in love with the music."

He says his father would be pleased that the movie Cadillac Records will introduce the Chess catalog to a new generation. And, of course, he says he would be thrilled about the royalties.
The report mentions Spinning Blues into Gold which is pictured below. I think it is a book that gives a more accurate history of Chess Records and the complicated legacy of the Chess brothers.

Spinning Blues into Gold:
The Chess Brothers and the Legendary Chess Records
Spinning Blues into Gold: The Chess Brothers and the Legendary Chess Records
click image for info @Amazon.com


blues movies @SqueezeMyLemon

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