Lester Chambers was born and raised
with his seven brothers and five sisters in pre-WWII rural Lee County Mississippi. His god-fearing Baptist parents encouraged
all thirteen of their children to sing in the choir of a little country church where his father was a Deacon. This early passion
for music continued when the family moved to South Central Los Angeles in the early 1950's where the elder Chambers' help
to establish the Greater Mount Zion Baptist Church in a storefront building. The popularity of that new church had a lot to
do with the rocking gospel Lester and his brothers served up every sunday.
Around the time the Beatles left England for America
Lester and his brothers ventured into LA's fabled Ash Grove coffee house and began singing their special blend of gospel and
folk music. An old guitar, stand up bass and those heavenly voices led by Lester on harmonica and cowbell soon had folks lined
up down Melrose in West Hollywood. One night in 1967 Ash Grove owner Ed Pearl paid them in a 1956 Cadillac and the Time
had come for The Chambers Brothers to hit the road that eventually led to New York City. Along the way Lester recalls seeing
hundreds of colorfully dressed, long haired kids hitchhiking away from their homes in the Midwest. This Hippy exodus inspired
his brother Joe to pen the words to Tim Has Come Today:
Time has come today
For young hearts to go their way
Can't put it off another day
They say we don't listen anyway
Time has come today
New York was quick to
embrace this unique psychedelic, rock 'n' roll, gospel group and Columbia Records scored a huge pop hit with a first ever
11-minute single. Time Has Come Today, the title track became an anthem of the era. By now The Chambers Brothers
had added a white drummer (Brian Keenan) and like their good friends, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Sly and the Family Stone,
were filling arenas with both white and black kids for the first. In 1970 The Chambers Brothers were a major campus
attraction playing to thousands of students nearly every night in auditoriums and on athletic fields. On May 4th, 1970 the
Kent State Massacre forced colleges and universities across the country to cancel campus concerts and gatherings.The Chambers
Brothers suffered a financial setback that they never recovered from. In 1972 The Chambers Brothers disbanded.
Today Lester and his
son Dylan still turn clubs concerts and festivals into rock 'n' roll church with his Lester
Chambers Blues Revue.
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