Record Row




  • Independent Record Companies
    • Had an emphasis on Blues, Rock and Roll, Windy City Soul
  • South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois
  • Because Black music was booming and independent  record companies started to form in order to jump on that “trend” while it was hot

What Companies Were On Record Row?

  • Chess, Oneder-ful, Chance, King, Constellation, Brunswick, Vee-Jay, Okey, Mar-V-lus, Mercury, ABC-Paramount, Curtum

What Were Some Artists Apart of Record Row and What Labels Did They Belong To?

Chess Records

Vee-Jay Records


Curtom Records


  • Muddy Waters- Biggest artist
    • Influenced Blues and Rock musicians
    • Invented amplified harmonica and guitar
  • Willie Dixon (bass player)
  • Howlin’ Wolf
  • Little Walter
  • Sonny Boy Williamson
  • Jimmy Rogers
  • Chuck Berry
    • One of biggest cross-over artist (played on Black and white radios)
    • King of Rock and Roll
  • Bo Diddley
    • Rejected by Vee-Jay for sounding too primitive and later signed w/ Chess
    • Played guitar w/ drum-like rhythm
  • Sugar Pie DeSanto
  • Mini Colia
  • Minnie Riperton
  • Etta James
  • The Dells-Soul
  • Fontella Bass-Soul
  • Billy Stewart- Soul


  • The Spaniels
    • First signed group
  • The Beatles
    • Denied from Capitol Records
    • Brought Vee-Jay overseas
    • Left to go back to Capitol Records
  • Jimmy Reed
  • John Lee Hooker
  • The Magnificents
  • El Dorados
  • Staples Singers 
  • The Caravans
  • Dee Clark
  • Gene Chandler
    • Duke of Earl- breakthrough song
  • The Four Season
    • Breakthrough in pop
  • Frank Ifield
  • The Impressions
    • Soul
    • Curtis Mayfield (songwriter/main singer)
  • Major Lance (dancer/singer)


  • The Chi-Lights
  • Jackie Wilson


  • Curtis Mayfield
  • The Impressions
  • The Five Stair Steps
  • Bobby Whiteside
  • The Staples Singers
  • Mavis Staples

Were certain labels known for certain types of music?

Chess Records:

  • Blues (known for magnetizing the world to Blues), gospel, rough edge rhythm and blues, pop


  • Blues, Doo-wop, Gospel, r&b, jazz, pop, soul (spin on gospel)

Compare Record Row to other record company creations in American cities.


  • Motown was a record label that came out of Detroit Michigan, the “Motor City”. Being one of the first majorly successful black-owned record labels, the artists did music that was much more light and upbeat compared to the rough and ruggedness of artists on Record Row. They wanted to appeal more to a white audience and so the artists were also looking neat and the music was something that everybody could dance and relate too.


Stax Records

  • Stax Records was formed in Memphis, Tennessee and while, similar to many labels on Record Row, it was known for their creativity and twists, one big difference between this label and Record Row was the type of music that was produced. Both companies had their own versions of Soul music, having started in Memphis, Stax had a bit more of a country twang and influence. On the other hand labels from Record Row (Vee-Jay for example) created Soul music with a greater influence of gospel. Essentially, both country and gospel both originate from the same place, negro spirituals, but it is interesting to see the different interpretation through each region and label.

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