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This tour led to a companion LP on Big Bear Records, in which Chico plays drums and sings two original numbers (“High Rise Blues” and “Big Fat Mama 480 LBS”). Also during the 70's, Chico ventured to Antone’s in Austin, Texas, befriending a yet to be famous Fabulous Thunderbirds band and Stevie Ray Vaughn.  During the first half of the 1980s, Chico hosted regular nights at Kingston Mines and Rosa’s, which in Chicago’s competitive blues market, was a notable testament to his talent, business savvy and charisma. In 1986, Chico relocated to Phoenix, Arizona at the invitation of Bob Corritore, who had met Chico in 1975 at a Howlin’ Wolf performance.

"I am the house rocker and the show stopper, the woman’s pet and the man’s threat. I am Chico, the Boogie Man"

"When he talks about a song, he taps his foot, claps his hands, beat-boxes. "I want you to feel it," he says. "One, two, three, bam! One, two, three, bam!" The rhythms, he says, are always in his head. His patented behind-the-beat drumming -- hitting the drum at the last possible moment on the beat -- has become the definitive tension-and-release rhythm of the blues. Chism is considered one of the greatest blues drummers of all time, and still one of the most requested."

Napoleon “Chico” Chism was born on a riverboat outside of Shreveport, Louisiana. During his high school days at Booker T. Washington he was the drummer for the house band that regularly appeared on Shreveport’s first black TV program, the Jockey Jim Sepia Showcase on Channel 3.

Later, he recorded in 1957 as a drummer for T.V. Slim on the original version of “Flat Foot Sam” on the Clif Record label. Then in 1959, but this time as a front man, he recorded the song “Hot Tamales and Bar-B-Que”.

He also worked in the bands of Choker Campbell, with Big Joe Turner, Clifton Chenier, Classie Ballou, Rosco Gordon, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Little Junior Parker, and many others. Later he found his calling after moving North to Chicago and soon became well

known in the as Howlin’ Wolf's last drummer. During this era he also played on historic sessions with Eddie Shaw and the Wolf Gang, Sunnyland Slim, and Willie Kent.

Chico started a record label called Cher-Kee Records which was distributed by Chess and put out a series of 45’s by some fine but undiscovered Chicago blues talent. Artist such as Highway Man, Eddie Jewtown Burks, Little Johnny Christian, Jerry Tyrone, Marshall Keyes and

Willie Davis recorded for Chico Chism’s tiny independant label. Chico appeared as a featured star of the American Blues Legends 1979 European Tour, which also included Billy “The Kid” Emerson, Eddie C. Campbell, Good Rockin’ Charles, Noland Struck, and Lester Davenport.


May 23, 1927 – Jan 28, 2007

Blues Legend + Master of the Backbeat + Howlin' Wolf's Last Drummer

Chico immediately found a home in Phoenix, and became a huge part of its blues community, winning abundant fame and celebrity status, and becoming a teacher to many budding blues players. He was a fixture at the Rhythm Room which he often boast of owning, becoming a key ingredient of the Rhythm Room All-Stars and regularly greeting his many legendary musician friends who toured through town. The Rhythm Room is still considered to be the “Home of Chico Chism.” Chico was Corritore’s first call session drummer, and recorded legendary Phoenix sessions with Jimmy Rogers, R.L. Burnside, Bo Diddley, Henry Gray, Lil’ Ed, Chief Schabuttie Gilliame, Mojo Buford, Louisiana Red, Big Pete Pearson, Pinetop Perkins, Little Milton, Smokey Wilson, John Brim, Kid Ramos, the Tail Dragger and many more. He would visit Chicago annually to attend the Chicago Blues Festival, and often participated in the festival’s Howlin’ Wolf tributes. He died at the age of 79 years from the effects of a stroke, he suffered of 2002. Chico was inducted into the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame. In 2015 he was featured in an exhibition at the Tempe History Museum called “Tempe Sound.” Also in 2015, the Chico Chism Memorial Studio was opened by Drew Verbis and Dan Duregger.




Niki D'Andrea - Staff Writer - Phx New Times Magazine - December 14, 2004

-Hot Tamales and Barbeque

-Coo Fanny Coo

-High Rise Blues

-480 Pounds

-Chico's Boogie

News / Press:

Original Songs:


*not complete listing

Sugaray Rayford

Rockin' Johnny Burgin

Francine Reed

Record High in Phoenix

C/o: Dan/Drew - Chico Studio

4242 E University Drive

Phoenix, Arizona 85034

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