Anonymous asked in Entertainment & MusicMusicBlues · 1 decade ago

what was the relationship between Etta James and Leonard Chess?

I know that Chess produced her music but how was their relationship ?

10 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    As opposed to the movie "Cadillac Records", which really was largely true to the *spirit* of the Blues produced by Chess Records, there was no evidence to suggest that there was any personal or physical relationship between James and Chess. If you're not referring to the movie, I would recommend watching it for it's face value, (I know you had at least another question or two about the Blues lately, and the movie's interesting in that respect!) but take the relationship with Etta and Leonard with a grain of salt, as it's definitely the most embellished part of the movie.

    Etta had some early success after some exposure with what I believe was "Wallflower", her earliest #1 hit. This put her on track with some major players in the day, which caught the attention of a scout for the Chess brothers. (There were two, Leonard and Phil) They signed her quickly, and she became a major *major* player at Chess in her day, and made him and the business a good chunk of money. She stuck with chess through all of her major hits "All I Could Do Was Cry", "Losers Weepers", the cover of Muddy Waters' hit "I Just Wanna Make Love To You", and of course, her absolutely timeless hit "At last!". For that, he of course had to keep her happy to stick with the label, but that didn't have hardly anything to do with her personal life, aside from her heroine addiction, which did interfere with business in a minor way, but did not become unmanageable until the mid seventies. When she first developed it, he offered to take her to rehab, but she denied. The story in the movie "Cadillac Records" about meeting her father is also true to the extent that he set up a meeting with her and her father.

    After Leonard Chess sold his label, Chess Records in '69, and subsequently died of a heart attack several months later, Etta still stayed with Chess Records for almost a decade.

    Leonard himself was a hugely influential force in the widespread popularity of the Blues, and helped all of his musicians through any means he (and his brother) could to help spread that popularity.

    Source(s): Well, you know, years of research, since I'm a bit of a Blues junkie. The books I've read about the subject are as follows: "The Story of Chess Records" by Buddy Guy (Yup THE Buddy Guy, the amazing Blues Musician who more or less got his first real break from Leonard Chess back in the day, but not before his peers imitated what he'd been doing for years. But that's a whole 'nother question!) "Chess Records And The Business Of Rock & Roll" (Can't remember the author ATM, I'll edit it in if I can. Both books should be readily available in your local Library. If not, try Amazon or eBay. If I was just way off and that doesn't help your curiosity, shoot me an email and I'll try and help out!
  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    This Site Might Help You.


    what was the relationship between Etta James and Leonard Chess?

    I know that Chess produced her music but how was their relationship ?

    Source(s): relationship etta james leonard chess:
  • 3 years ago

    Leonard Chess

  • Kman
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    There is absolutely no evidence that Leonard Chess and Etta James had anything other than a professional relationship. I have never heard anyone associated with Chess Records ever hint of a romantic relationship, and I've done a ton of research and read numerous articles on Chess. Remember, "Cadillac Records" is a movie and movies often take liberties with the truth, sometimes making fiction appear as fact.

    • Cheryl R5 years agoReport

      There absolutely is evidence that there was more to Leonard and Etta than a professional relationship... You can go to extremes to hide something for YEARS... but in reality it's never really hidden... It's just tucked away for a time.

  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • Tama
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    For the best answers, search on this site

    Etta still performs all over the country and world, and it was a blatent insult that she wasn't invited to the Inaugural Ball, also that her trademark song was sung by Beyonce. It seems like they could have asked Etta to perform at least once during all the Inaugural activities and balls. I like Beyonce and think her singing is awesome, but I also feel bad for Etta James.

  • 3 years ago

    I agree with Stephie that was his Boo

  • 4 years ago

    An attraction you know we ladies do what we have to do and back then the ladies did it with way more finesse

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago


  • 1 decade ago

    They were good friends and almost lovers.

    Source(s): I am in my fifties and I saw the movie
    • Sandrine4 years agoReport

      Yes he had sexual relations with her as many most Europeans did with the brown sugar s of America, of African Descent, always have! Be Real now that iis

  • 4 years ago

    That was his Boo!!

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.