Inductee Biography for CHICO CHISM

Chico_ChismChico Chism was born in 1927 on a riverboat in Shreveport, Louisiana. He performed all over the South, eventually settling in Chicago, Illinois. During his time singing and playing drums in the blues clubs of Chicago, he had the chance to play with many great blues artists including Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Big Joe Turner, Sunnyland Slim and many more. Chico played drums on a vast number of studio sessions on several major Chicago blues record labels. Eventually he started his own small label, Cher-Kee Records, producing his own records and those of various other Chicago blues artists. Chico mastered the art of backbeat blues drumming that very few drummers ever manage to perfect. His onstage personality and gift for humor won over audiences wherever he went. His singing style was fun and powerful.

Chico toured on the road throughout the United States and Europe with such blues luminaries as Otis Rush, T-Bone Walker, Freddie King, Lowell Fulson and Junior Wells. He is best known for his work with Chester Burnett, better known as the famous “Howlin’ Wolf.” Chico played drums with Howlin’ Wolf during the mid-1970s and was his last drummer. After Howlin’ Wolf passed away, Chico continued playing in his band, which continued to perform as Eddie Shaw and the Wolf Gang. He also spent two years as the bandleader for Roscoe Gordon.

In 1987, Chico moved to Phoenix, Arizona at the urging of blues impresario Bob Corritore, That same year, the weekly news/arts/entertainment newspaper New Times named Chico’s band the “Best Blues Band” in their annual “Best of Phoenix” issue. Bob and Chico continued to appear and record together on a regular basis until Chico retired from performing following his stroke in 2002.

Chico Chism was an true Arizona blues ambassador and in 1995 was the first person inducted into the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame. He was known all over the state as one of the most unique and memorable blues stars to ever call Arizona home. He passed away on January 28, 2007 at the age of 79, making an indelible mark on the Arizona blues scene and he will always be fondly remembered.

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