Bob Koester, founder of Chicago’s Delmark Records and operator of one of the most beloved record stores in the world died on May 12th, he was 88. He began recording and selling blues and jazz records in 1953 while still in St. Louis, and named his record label for a street there, adding a “K” to the end of Delmar for his own last name. After relocating to Chicago in 1958 his recordings of now famous Chicago bluesmen helped to define the Chicago Blues sound. He brought 1930s bluesmen back into the studio while bringing the public’s attention to the next generation of artists.
Associated with the label was his popular record store, Jazz Record Mart, which became a unique landmark even during the heyday of wonderful record stores. He sold the store in 2018, relaunching as a smaller outlet known as Bob’s Blues & Jazz Mart. In 2018 he assured the Delmark label would survive him by selling it to a pair of young Chicago Musicians. Koester was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1996.