NPR Music News

Phil Chess, co-founder of the iconic Chicago blues and rock 'n' roll label Chess Records, died Wednesday in Tucson, Ariz. He was 95.

Phil and his brother, Leonard Chess, emigrated to the U.S. from Poland in 1928. Chess Records biographer Nadine Cohodas told their story to NPR in 2000.

"It was a scrappy kind of existence," Cohodas said of the Chess brothers' early years in Chicago. "Their father was very determined and he opened a junk shop, as did many other immigrants from Eastern Europe."

Cuban singer Omara Portuondo came to international attention in the 1950s, when that country was less isolated than it has been since the Revolution. Her voice reached ears around the world again in the '90s, when she was featured as the only female singer on the hit Buena Vista Social Club album. Today, Portuondo is 85 — and she's still performing.

The cast recording of Lazarus, the musical David Bowie wrote with playwright Enda Walsh, is out this week, and with it arrives three previously unreleased Bowie songs recorded during his Blackstar sessions. "Killing A Little Time" is the third track to leak from the album, and it's an ominous, polyrhythmic rock scorcher that would have fit well on the icon's final album. It's one of the last songs he recorded before his death from liver cancer in January.

Buy An Album; Get Some Cremated Remains

Oct 19, 2016
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Chuck Berry turns 90 Tuesday. I know he's a very important person in music history, but he's never been a guy I listened to much. I mean, I've heard hits like "Maybellene" from 1955, but I wanted to learn more.

So I called Tony Trov. He's an artist out of Philadelphia, but more important, he plays in a Chuck Berry cover band called It's Marvin, Your Cousin Marvin Berry, a reference to a memorable scene in Back to the Future.