During Brunswick and Vee Jay’s heyday, Chess Records was still firing away at 2120 S. Michigan Ave. from the sparks of cultural avatars like Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Willie Dixon, Etta James, Howlin’ Wolf, and so many more . It wasn’t uncommon for session musicians to network along South Michigan Avenue.
The Black-owned One-derful! Records thrived at 1827 S. Michigan. Founder George Leaner opened up shop on “Record Row” in 1963 and before dissolving in 1968, One-derful! had recorded the Chicago soul legend Otis Clay, Betty Everett, and Alvin “Twine Time” Cash. The Jackson 5’s first recording was “Big Boy,” released in 1967 on Steeltown Records, a Gary, Ind. based label co-owned by one time One-derful! vocalist Gordon Keith.
It was a most wonderful time for record labels spinning across the state of Illinois.