Everybody loves Chico

A Chicago legend gives Phoenix the blues.

At the present, Chism hangs his high hat at the Rhythm Room, a venue he still frequents, and a place where people often approach him to shake his hand and hear his stories. Like the one about the time that Mick Jagger was staying at Muddy Waters' house and Howlin' Wolf came over, wondering who had the biggest feet. "I told Mick Jagger, 'You got the biggest feet -- lay 'em on the couch.' The biggest feet in the world!" Chism says.

And there was that car wreck he got into on the way to a show. "I was in a wreck with Roscoe Gordon. I was goin' down to Jackson, Mississippi, with him," Chism recalls. "Roscoe hit a damn cotton truck, and our trumpet player, he hurt his lip. I said, 'C'mon, we're gonna play. It's water under the bridge.'"

Chico's the man: Howlin' Wolf's last drummer is a resident legend in the Valley.
Jackie Mercandetti
Chico's the man: Howlin' Wolf's last drummer is a resident legend in the Valley.

Such a story reveals the determination of Chism, who still sits in on drums or sings a few songs whenever he can. He even plans on jamming with some of his old Chicago blues buddies at an upcoming Phoenix gig. In spite of his ripe age and past health issues, Chism won't be kept from doing what he loves. "Blues is my bag," Chism says. "Blues is the only music that's alive. Blues is from the heart. That's why people relate to you -- because it's from the heart."

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