Chess Records était un label US basé à Chicago (Illinois). Il était dirigé par deux frères : Leonard Chess et Phil Chess. Chess Records reste un des labels les plus important de l'histoire du Blues et a joué un rôle non négligeable dans le Rock 'n' Roll et la Soul Music. En effet, Chess Records sortit des douzaines de singles et d'albums considérés aujourd'hui comme des pièces maîtresses de la musique Rock par des artistes comme Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley et d'autres.
Le nom original de Chess Record était Aristocrat Records. Les deux immigrants polonais Leonard et Phil Chess achetèrent une partie de la société en 1947 et quand en 1950, ils furent les seuls propriétaires, ils la renommèrent en Chess Records. Leur premier disque fut I Can't Be Satified par Muddy Waters. En 1951, ils distribuèrent Rocket 88 de Jackie Brenston & his Delta Cats produit par Sam Phillips de la Sun Records de Memphis, un des premiers morceaux de l'histoire du rock 'n' roll.
Chess Records devint célèbre pour ses enregistrements de Blues, Rock 'n' Roll et Rhythm 'n' Blues. Les musiciens associés à Chess Records restent Willie Dixon, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Gene Ammons, Jimmy Rogers, Little Walter, The Moonglows, Etta James ou encore Minnie Riperton. Dixon en particulier fut un des personnages central de Chess Records : il était non seulement un bon bassiste et un compositeur acharné mais il aidait également à l'orchestration des morceaux.
Marshall Chess, fils de Leonard, tenta de remonter le label, tombé en désuétude dans le courant des années 1960. Mais la mort brutale de son père en 1969 mit un terme à son entreprise. Phil Chess vendit la compagnie à GRT, fabriquant de bandes magnétiques. Cell-ci fut rachetée par MCA en 1985.

Chess Records was an American record label based in Chicago, Illinois. They specialized in Blues, Rhythm 'n' Blues, Gospel Music, early Rock 'n' Roll, and occasional Jazz releases. Run by brothers Leonard and Phil Chess, the company produced and released many important singles and albums, which are now regarded as central to the rock music "canon." Musician and critic Cub Koda described Chess Records as "America's greatest blues label."
Chess Records was based at several different locations on the south side of Chicago, Illinois, the most famous being at 2120 S. Michigan Avenue from c. 1956 to c. 1965., immortalized by British rock group The Rolling Stones in their song "2120 S. Michigan", which was recorded at that address during their first U.S. tour in 1964. This building is now home to the Blues Heaven Foundation.
Leonard bought a stake in a record company called Aristocrat Records in 1947; in 1950 Leonard brought his brother Phil into the operation and they became sole owners of the company and renamed it Chess Records. In 1952 the brothers started Checker Records, as an alternative label for radio play (radio stations would only play a limited number of records for any one imprint). In December 1956 they launched a Jazz label called Marterry, which was quickly renamed Argo Records. Argo changed its name in 1965 to Cadet Records to end confusion with an older British classical music label named Argo. There was also Cadet Concept records, for rock and more adventurous music, such as the Rotary Connection, and the now-infamous experimental psychedelic "Electric Mud" album by Muddy Waters.
During the 1950s, Leonard and Phil Chess handled most of the production. They brought in legendary producer Ralph Bass in 1960 to handle the gospel and some of the blues singers. Bassist and songwriter Willie Dixon, was also heavily involved in production for the label, and is now credited retroactively as a producer on some re-releases. During the 1960s, the Chess' A&R man and chief producer was Roquel "Billy" Davis.
Chess Records was also known for such session musicians as drummer Maurice White and Bassist/Trombonist Louis Satterfield, both of whom would later shape the Funk group Earth, Wind, & Fire.
The company was also briefly run by Marshall Chess, son of Leonard, in his position as vice president between January and October, 1969, and as president following the acquisition by GRT at that time, before he went on to found Rolling Stones Records.
In 1969 the Chess brothers sold the label to General Recorded Tape (GRT) for $6.5 million. In October 1969 Leonard Chess died, and by 1972 the only part of Chess Records still operating in Chicago was the recording studio. GRT had moved the label to New York City, operating it as a division of Janus Records. Under GRT, Chess effectively vanished as an important force in the recording industry. In August 1975, GRT sold what remained of Chess Records to All Platinum Records. In the early eighties, noticing the unavailability of the Chess catalog, Marshall Chess was able to convince The Robinson family, who owned All Platinum, to reissue the catalog themselves under his supervision (All Platinum had been licensing selected tracks out to other companies). The reissued singles and LPs sold well, but by the mid eighties All Platinum fell into financial difficulties, and the Chess master recordings were eventually acquired by MCA Records, which itself was in turn later absorbed by Universal Music subsidiary Geffen Records.