Chapter 7 "Recording at Chess Records"

In lieu of cash payment for our performance, the 1010 was promised a recording session at the legendary Chess Records Studio.  Copper (Patty Shannon) used her considerable charm and influence to arranged a meeting with Marshall Chess who along with his brother also owned WSDM radio.  Having no idea what we were doing, Scot and I went to Chess Records and met with Marshall Chess to discuss our ambitions.   Chris returned home from school to play with us and the 1010 was booked to record an audition tape at Chess Records.

It was an otherworldly experience to unload our equipment and roll it up the loading dock where many great blues artists recorded world famous songs.  We were giddy with excitement setting up our gear in one of the big studios where Chicago blues legends like Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, and even the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds had recorded historic songs.

The sound engineer was Dave Purple former member of the Cryiní Shames.  Abner Specter and Marshall Chess were also present.  We were nervous but confident.  The very walls of the studio inspired us knowing the history of the great artists that previously graced that room. 

The lighting in the studio could be changed from the bright overhead fluorescent tubes to the dim lights of incandescent bulbs providing a more intimate environment for the mood of the artists.  Being the photojournalist, I preferred the brighter light for photography much to the chagrin of my band mates.

Chris, Scot, and Russ sang their hearts out despite the bright lights under which I made numerous photographs.  I knew the other guys would have preferred the mood lighting but I wanted the bright lights so I could make photographs.  I felt badly that I had insisted on keeping the lights bright that day but the resulting photographs are a priceless documentary of our incredible experience.  Especially more valuable considering that we were never able to obtain a copy of the recording made that day.   

I suppose that had I been more aggressive I could have gotten a copy of the tape.  But it was after all Marshall Chessís recording session and we were there as his guests.  As it was, we were able only to hear a playback in the control room. 

Decades later, Chess records ceased business, became a museum, and those tapes are now lost.  Dave Purple since passed away.  Itís unlikely that a tape of that session survived.


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