Chance Records

Taking a Chance

Chance Records was a solo label founded in Chicago that was responsible for well-known artists and their songs. This record label has put itself on the map through its production and creation, as they’ve showcased several renowned artists and African American music. Chance Records evolved in recording the latest African American sounds that glided across the city of Chicago.


Originally based out of Chicago, this record label, Chance Records, was founded in 1950. One of the first artists to sign with them was the Al Sims Trio. Their successes helped to draw attention to the record company. As their records continued to sell out, pressing plants had a difficult time keeping up with the demands. Further down the line, they ran into some obstacles. We hired some non-union personnel and in turn, we received consequences from the American Federation of Musicians. One of those consequences is the loss of our license for one year. In May of 1952, we were able to make a swift recovery. We had the opportunity to sign with various blues singers and we eventually hit our peak in 1963- releasing hits and collaborating with other record labels. In 1954, Chance records wound down and we decided to become a behind-the-scenes investor in larger companies such as Vee-Jay Record Label. 


The Flamingos

            Over the years, we’ve had many artists record hit records with our label. An example of this includes The Flamingos, an American doo-wop group established in 1953 in the city of Chicago. The quintet consisted of  Jacob “Jake” Carey (the bass) and Ezekiel “Zeke” Carey (the tenor), who constructed the group in “Chi-town”. Subsequently, Earl Lewis joined along with Paul and Wilson and Johnny Carter– the first tenor, after meeting at a Hebrew Israelite Congregation. Before the group established their final name, they were known as “The Swallows”, “El Flamingos” and even “The Five Flamingos”. A few of their first successful hits included their first single for the record company, “If I Can’t Have You”, “That’s My Desire”, and “Golden Teardrops”, which solidified their reputation as the best act of the day. 


The Four Shades of Rhythm

The Four Shades of Rhythm was formed in Cleveland, Ohio. The American R&B group consisted of Oscar Lindsey, Willie Lewis, Sims London, and Macon Sims. Oscar played the drums and sang, Willie played the guitar, Sims was on the keys, and Macon played the bass guitar. The four gathered together as a quartet and established the group in 1938. Already collecting a massive range of show tunes, traditional pop standards, and jazz during World War II, the members of this group were neighborhood friends that worked on the circuit of the city. A few of their hits include “One Hundred Years from Today”, “Yesterdays”, and “So There”.

The Moonglows

Another group that recorded with Chance Records was The Moonglows, an American R&B group from the 1950s, that was signed to the label at the same time as The Flamingos. The Moonglows started off as a duo, formed by Bobby Lester and Harvey Fuqua in 1949 in Louisville, Kentucky. Harvey soon moved to Cleveland, where he split off from the duo and formed a new group known as The Crazy Sounds, with singers Prentiss Barnes and Coggins, and Lester would soon join them after. This group was not only one of their biggest artists, but one of the biggest groups in music, as they were inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. A few songs the Moonglows have recorded for Chance Records include “Whistle My Love”, “Just a Lonely Christmas”, “Ooh Rockin Daddy”, but their song “Sincerely” was a successful hit, as it reached number one on Billboard and number twenty on the Billboard Jukebox Chart.


Conclusively, this small record label founded in Chicago is responsible for a few the most successful hits and artists in the history of music. The artists listed aren’t even half of the total amount of successes they have signed to their record label. Though the company closed down, their name will forever remain in the books of great record labels. 

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