Blues Are Back At Chicago Studio

CHICAGO (AP) — From 1957 to 1967, greats from the early rock 'n' roll era recorded at the Chess Records Studio on Chicago's South Side. This week, musicians recorded tunes there for the first time in 15 years.

Blues pianist Johnnie Johnson joined rock band Styx to raise money for the Willie Dixon Blues Heaven Foundation. The combo recorded "Blue Collar Man" and "Hey Mr. Johnson."

The 23-year-old foundation exposes children to blues, assists young musicians with business matters and provides emergency medical financial assistance to musicians. It officially made Chess Records Studio its home in 1997.

"There's a vibe and a spirit that you can't help but feel when you are in a place like this," said Styx guitarist and singer Tommy Shaw. "To have an opportunity to be connected and do whatever we can to bring some attention to the Willie Dixon Blues Foundation is really an honor, something we can't put a price on."

Styx had to bring in equipment to record the tracks because the foundation didn't have enough equipment of its own. The band pledged $25,000 over the next five years to help fund a studio.

Despite the fame of Chess Records among blues aficionados, many young people don't realize its significance, said Styx guitarist "J.Y." Young, who was born and raised on the South Side.

"They laid the groundwork for all of us to make our living the way we do, and it's time for us to give back," he said.

Musicians who recorded at Chess include Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, John Lee Hooker, Etta James, Buddy Guy and Aretha Franklin. The last musician to record at the studio was John Mellencamp, who recorded "Jackie Brown" there in 1989.

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