Excerpt From The Beginning; A Memoir
By Lester Chambers with T. Watts
I am the former lead singer of a 60's band, The Chambers Brothers. I performed before thousands at Atlanta Pop 2, Miami Pop, Newport Pop and Atlanta Pop. I DID NOT squander my money on drugs or a fancy home. I went from 1967-1994 before I saw my first royalty check. The music giants I recorded with only paid me for 7 of my albums. I have never seen a penny in royalties from my other 10 albums I recorded. Our hit song was licensed to over 100 films and television commercials without our permission. One major television network used our song for a national commercial and my payment was $625. I am now 72 (sic), trying to live on $1200 a month. Sweet Relief, a music charity is taking donations for me. Only the 1% of artists can afford to sue. I am the 99%.
We were raised in the Baptist church in Mississippi. When I was very young, I would spend summers with my grandmother in Forest, Mississippi, to help her with her chores. We were actually born in Forest, but moved to Carthage, when my dad had some trouble with some White folks. Over there (in Forest), they had a male vocal choir where I learned to sing notes. They would ring a tone on a chime and the tenors, baritones and the different vocal sections would match the tone in whatever corresponding key. Everybody would hum their key. And it would be like, "do re re me me do me re do me me re re mi do do mi mi re mi do re mi do," and so on. That's called singing notes. Then we'd sing the lyrics, "Ever since I parted from my friends, I started livin' life within', I want to live right, to live right, to live right, Jesus all the time…"
At home, we would sing around the fireplace and quite often we'd sing in the cotton fields. We'd get requests from the neighbors two or three hills away because we were in the echo hills of Mississippi. When you'd shout something there, you could hear it four hills away. "Would you guys sing such and such today, today, today?" You could hear the echo bouncing. We'd answer, "Yes," and it would bounce, "yes, yes…"
We developed our brand of four part harmony by singing in those echo hills. We also had four sisters, who sang with us so we were like a choir ensemble. Jewell Lee was the oldest, followed in birth order by Bonnie Ruth, Vera Lois and Lucinda, the baby. The harmonies were a blessing from God. What can I say? How else could it have got there so perfectly? There was Joe with the big deep voice, George with the tenor voice, Willie with the baritone lead voice and me hittin' all those high notes, it just worked right out. (I also have five siblings who sang separately from our choir ensemble.)
My brothers and sisters are still alive. There's a family reunion every year. We use to do it all over the world. Now it's limited to a few states and whoever is close will come. Everybody is too old to travel.
Getting Out Of Mississippi
Sharecropping life in Carthage, Mississippi was a hard life. It was like the worst life anybody could ever have. I actually saw the owner of the farm, Mr. Doug, (who was also the local Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan,) give my Dad fifty cents and tell him, "That's all you cleared this year George, but think about it, your family still has a place to stay and you can get anything you want at the store." You know they had a little store where you could get fertilizer, cornmeal and all your essentials for that type of miserable life. As miserable as it was, Mr. Doug treated us decently. It was business to him. If we got sick, he'd get us to the doctor. I remember when my brother George had an attack of appendicitis; Mr. Doug was quickly right there and rushed him to the doctor. Normally, White doctors wouldn't treat Black people. We had to relay on root doctors or purveyors of Hoodoo who would prepare ointments and potions for you. My dad was an absolute genius at it. He kept us healthy. He was a Medicine Man. He could really make a potion, brother!
We were just sitting there waiting for an escape time to come. Two of my brother in laws had bought a 1952 Ford and driven it from Los Angeles where they lived, to Carthage. Now Mr. Doug, the farm owner came over and said to my brother in law, "Arthur Lee, what are you doing here?"
My brother in law said, "Mr. Doug, we just came to visit for a little while."
"You didn't come to get my niggers, did you? Because if you did, there's gonna be a problem."
"Oh no Mr. Doug. We're just visiting. We'll be gone in about a day."
We had secretly already packed everything we could take, but had hidden everything so it looked like we hadn't. We were waiting for the right opportunity to get outta there. Late one night there was a severe rain storm with thunder and lightnin'. We proceeded to quickly load the car. We got all we could in. In order for Mr. Doug not to hear the car start, we pushed it far up the road until it started to roll down the hill. We all jumped in and coasted way down the hill and then started the car so it wouldn't wake anybody. We drove to my grandmother's house which, at the time seemed like forever, but in reality it was only a few miles away. She'd packed up chicken for our trip and we ate chicken all the way from Mississippi to Los Angeles.
When we left my mother and dad in Mississippi it was hard because we didn't know if we'd ever see them alive again. It was like, oh my God, hopefully they will be able to eventually come. We were really worried about what Mr. Doug would do when he discovered we were gone and weren't working his fields.
I was about thirteen or fourteen years old when this happened. I don't remember how many weeks went by before Mr. Doug released my parents. They made it to California and we were united together as a family again.
California was like a whole new culture. We had never seen Mexican people. We had never seen Chinese people. None of that. All we knew about was White people and Indian people. Back in Carthage, there was really only one block that had sidewalks. It was where the courthouse was and they didn't really allow Blacks to walk around the courthouse. It was just very, very hard back there and my dad couldn't see us growing up in that environment. He did all he could. Bless his heart and amen.
Into the Cali Music Scene
Basically the only music we'd heard in Mississippi was country. Most notably, the Grand Ole Opry on radio. When we went to town we could hear Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker on the jukebox. Then Hank Ballard messed around and recorded Work With Me Annie and that got on that Mississippi jukebox too. Boy, that was somethin'!
When we came to California, we found ourselves surrounded by Latin people and Latin music. Within a couple of days I found a job a paper factory, made a couple of bucks until I started school and bought myself a record player. I was hearin' this music that the Latin people were playin' on weekends all night long. It was like a festival. The first two albums I bought were Willie Bobo and Tito Puente. I played those till they ran me out the house!
California was such a different life than Mississippi. The lifestyle was different, the food was different, etc. In Mississippi, the state had handed us down schoolbooks from wherever they could get them from. They'd issue us eighth grade books, sometimes twelfth grade books, sometimes only the teacher had a book. Anyway, I learned all this stuff and when we got to California, I found that frequently, in the classroom, God, I'd already had that stuff. So I was able to take a test in the 7th grade and passed to the 9th and when I started 10th grade, I still found that I'd been taught all that. What was amazing was, in Mississippi, you couldn't go to school all year. You could only go after the crops were all in.
I've also been blessed with a photographic memory. When I was 16, I passed the high school equivalency test and was out of school.
The Chambers Brothers Gospel Group
As we settled into California, we had this Gospel Group, The Chambers Brothers. We joined The International Interdenominational Singers Alliance. We were singing Gospel every Sunday with whoever came to town. They had big programs. Eventually though, the Alliance had a problem with our attire. They wanted us to wear matching suits. Because of our differences in sizes though, we could not find four suits that matched. My brother George was an adult. Willie was an adult sized teenager, I was younger and Joe was smaller than I. So they eventually dismissed us because we could not meet their uniform requirements. So, we started going to coffee houses.
We didn't to the coffee houses with the idea that we would sing. At first we went just to hear the music. That's where we met Sam "Lightnin' " Hopkins. What a great time that was. We had heard about him and went down to the Ashgrove in LA to hear him and other great musicians they would bring in about twice a month. My brother Joe started doin' Lightnin's hair. Lightnin' was likin' it. So Joe got into Lightnin's head and asked him how to get a job at the Ashgrove working as an entertainer. Lightnin' told him, "Well, you gotta talk to Mr. Ed Pearl."
So we go to talk to Mr. Ed Pearl and he asked us, "What do you sing?"
"We sing Gospel," we stated.
Pearl replied, "We do Blues, Folk and Country here. I don't know that our audience would like Gospel."
We asked Ed Pearl if we could try and one night he auditioned us in front of a live audience and they loved it So we got the job and became opening act at the Ashgrove for Lightnin' Hopkins,
All my young life I had wanted to meet Sonny Terry. One night, sitting around the house, my brother Joe came in all excited and said, "Lester, Lester. Guess what."
"Sonny Terry is coming to the Ashgrove."
"No, he's coming there with a guitar player named Brownie McGee.
So we went to hear Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee and through meeting them, got introduced to Barbara Dane who hung out with the Gospel/Freedom/Folk/Protest movement crowd. So we got involved singing background with her cuz we just wanted to sing, you know? So now we're singing Gospel in this coffee house, and man, it was magnetic. It was such a great thing. The spirit was so high, the furniture wouldn't stay in place. Pearl had to switch to plastic cups because so much glass was broken. People were dancin', turnin' things over cuz they loved our Gospel. It got crazy. Mahalia Jackson heard about it. I don't know how, but she protested that Gospel shouldn't be sung in places that served alcoholic beverages because of the sacredness of it. She got so much steam behind her protest that we were banned from singing Gospel at the Ashgrove and any coffee house that served alcohol.
So we were like, what are we gonna do now. So we said, "Okay, we like Jimmy Reed. We like Lightnin' Hopkins, we like Brownie and Sonny. We like all that! So we decided to take those slow Blues, speed 'em up and turn them into Rock/Blues. So we did that, really invented the genre of Bluesrock and never got credit for it. So that's how we became to be known as crowd-pleasers. Then we got booked at the Newport Folk Festival.
The Newport Folk Festival
We weren't actually booked at The Newport Folk Festival in 1964. Barbara Dane was booked and we sang with her in New York's Central Park to promote the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island. We actually rode to Newport with the actor Theo Bikel.
Meanwhile word had gotten out that Josh White, Sr. was sick and would be unable to perform his slot at the Festival. They were looking for somebody to take his place. So they asked him. He said, "My sons and brothers, The Chambers Brothers."
We didn't play the main stage at Newport in 1964. We did Gospel workshops (mixed up with a little country) with acoustic guitars. At that point, people were still thinking Josh White might be able to perform but he couldn't, so they invited us to take his place. When we got on that stage in front of 54,000 people, we became instant comedians because we ran out on stage and put on brakes and skidded to a stop, started looking around thinking, wow! The audience started laughing
From the wings, George Wein is telling us, "Do not plug in those electric guitars."
We had no choice. We had one acoustic and one electric. We plugged in. My brother George had the gutbucket bass. So on stage we started with Jimmy Reed's You Got Me Runnin' (Baby What You Want Me To Do).
The whole audience was dancin'. We were a hit. After the set, George Wein couldn't say enough about how surprisingly good we were and we were most definitely invited back next year.
The next year also the year Bob Dylan went Electric. The Paul Butterfield Band was there. Son House, Reverend Gary Davis. Mississippi John Hurt, Memphis Slim, Willie Dixon, Peter, Paul & Mary, Lightnin' Hopkins, Fannie Lou Hamer and so many more were there that I can't remember.
When Bob Dylan went onstage with his white Telecaster, many in the crowd booed. So all the Folksingers joined hands and went on stage behind him to support him. People in the crowd were sayin', "Go get a real guitar. " He told them, "This is a real guitar." So that was how the electric guitar was introduced to the Newport Folk Festival.
After hearing us at the festival, Bob Dylan took us to New York because he wanted us to sing background for him on his Highway 61Revisited album. We did the session, but somehow, our vocals never made it to the finished product. After the recording session, Dylan was playing a club in New York after that was called Ondine and invited us. It was the first hip disco in New York, probably in all of the United States.
It was at Ondine that we met the group with the unlikely name, "The Losers." Their drummer was Brian Keenan whom we recruited and adopted as the "5th Chambers Brother." That's led to him becoming our drummer.
All of a sudden we became the in-demand background and session singers for any and everybody. It became a whole new life for us. We knew that we had been accepted musically for our talent. We could do what we did anywhere, anytime.
(OF THE GROUND BREAKING CHAMBERS BROTHERS)
Lester Chambers (of the groundbeaking Chambers Brothers) discusses his musical journey thru 40 years of Rock n' Roll, Blues, Jazz, Gospel, Funk, Reggae, etc. Lester also discusses his relationships with musical legends such as Sly and the Family Stone, Mahalia Jackson, Miles Davis, Curtis Mayfield, Jimi Hendrix and more, as he educates us on the past, present and future of the music/culture.
We also get a WORLD PREMIRE of selected cuts from Lester and KK Martin's new CD called 'BLUES FOR SALE'. We hear the songs Ain't Got You, Parchman Farm, People Get Ready, Time Has Come Today.
CHAT TRANSCRIPT on Friday 5/18/2001 at 11pm est:
MR. LESTER CHAMBERS
INTRO: by Debra Walker
Back in the day, sometime around the mid to late 1960's, my sister and I rushed out to get the Chambers Brothers music. We did get an album of theirs, although I no longer have it. At the time, we both dug their sound, and, in the scheme of things, e.g., so-called black music released at the time, these folks were DIFFERENT from all of the other popular acts back then. I thought that they were very ambitious, too, due to the blend of music genres that I heard in their songs, i.e., rock (especially the psychedelic trends of the day), blues, funk and gospel. And, as I recall, the Chambers Brothers, at that time, were probably considered to be interracial, too, in makeup, since there was one white member in the band. LOL...
Anyway, back in 1967 or 1968 (their heyday), this group was probably considered to be trailblazers. Perhaps, they were... As I remember, the brothers were all from down south (in the US), too, i.e., Mississippi, Alabama, etc. But, they weren't singing/performing the "usual" stuff, e.g., strict formulas for R&B/Soul music as heard from black artists at the time. BTW, the first time that I heard any of their songs, they were played on a (again...so-called) local, "white" radio station (WCFL) that was a powerhouse/"superstation" in this area.
When I listen to those songs now, I remember the vast array of talent that (I think) these folks possessed. And, each one of these songs covered one or more of the music genres that I mentioned earlier in this message, i.e., blues, rock (with psychedelic leanings), soul, funk, and gospel. I especially like the song "I Can't Turn You Loose" :)... Of course, I LOVE Otis Redding's version best of all. But, I think that the Chambers Brothers put their own unique spin on the tune, and did it justice. IMHO, they just turned the tempo up, a notch or two (or three!).
At any rate, and all things considered, I feel that you should be the
judge, in the end, WRT the significance of the Chambers Brothers, and
whether or not their music has enhanced your collection. Personally, I
have appreciated and liked most of the work that they have produced.
And, if nothing else, this group, at the time, was on the cutting edge,
as far as I was concerned.
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| LESTER-CHAMBERS: HAS JOINED THE SOUL-PATROL CHAT ROOM
earthjuice: Welcome to the Soul Patrol Chat Room
April: Hello Mr Chambers. Thanks for
sharing your time with us
Hello friends & Chambers Brothers' fans,
earthjuice: Lester, this is a true honor
I'm just popping in quickly to pay my
respects to Lester. You and your kin are true originators and pioneers who are
far to often only mentioned in 60's compilation liner notes.We love your whole
body of work, not just one song. And you are FUNKY, not just psyc
That's quite a mouthful Bill
LESTER-CHAMBERS: Thanks DJ. Did you ever see us
I must go see LIVE funk music. A rarity in my
city. PLEASE post a transcript Bob!
I am much too young! Did
you ever tour in Canada?
earthjuice: u bet Bill :)
LESTER-CHAMBERS: Yes in
Toronto &; Vancouver with the group, Guess Who
and much respect to all. Guess Who have a new deal and are back on the scene you
should tour with them again!
GROWING UP IN MISSISIPPI
Chambers , who or what influenced your music?
LESTER-CHAMBERS: We started
singing church songs that we would sing in church while picking cotton in
LESTER-CHAMBERS: While living in L.A in the late 50's, we liked
Sam Cooke, Ray Charles
earthjuice: What singers were you influenced by,
earthjuice: Lester, we all know that you and your brothers grew up in
Mississippi, what was it like growing up there for you back in the 1940 s and
April: How did you go from picking cotton to a career
LESTER-CHAMBERS: We were dirt poor sharecroppers & my father was
an excellent cotton grower so the white landowners would periodically trade us
to other owners. Church was our saving grace. We won every church contests as
"The Little Chambers Brothers
earthjuice: Sounds like it was a difficult
existence?.......younger folks like myself have a hard time relating to
LESTER-CHAMBERS: My father moved us to L.A in 1953 and again we
sang in our church and eventually going to folk clubs at the beaches.
whose idea was it to enter those contests? was it something you really wanted to
LESTER-CHAMBERS: Church was the only acceptable outings for the blacks in
the south. We loved singing in church and getting this positive
earthjuice: What changed for you when you moved out of
LESTER-CHAMBERS: L.A in the 50's was quite a culture shock for
us. We could go anywhere we wanted and have jobs out of the fields. & school
April: My family picked cotton in Texas, but a generation
before me so I have a slight idea of what life was like
April: were you
accepted when you moved there?
LESTER-CHAMBERS: The predominately white folk
clubs in L.A seemed to accept our gospel a cappella singing. This is before we
all learned how to play our instruments.
earthjuice: What changed
for you when you moved out of Mississippi?
LESTER-CHAMBERS: Living in L.A was
certainly much freer than in Mississippi
April: did you learn to play in
school? what motivated you to learn an instrument?
LESTER-CHAMBERS: I started
to teach myself to play the harmonica and one night at the famous Ashgrove in
Hollywood &; asked Sonny Terry to give me an Harmonica lesson. He said if I
could cook him a meal. I cooked a wonderful southern meal & he spent hours
April: lol my family would appreciate it if you gave me cooking
earthjuice: That's an incredible story....
instruments did you learn how to play?
LESTER-CHAMBERS: My brothers &; I
are all self taught musicians, can't read a word of music. My grandfather was
also talented like this and my 2 sons play 2 instruments each.
April: do your
sons perform with you?
LESTER-CHAMBERS: My sons, Donovan, just turned 18 and
Dylan is 16. Dylan performed with the Chambers Brothers at Lincoln Center when
he was 4, singing Dock of the bay.
LEARNING THE MUSIC BUSINESS THE HARD WAY
(BY NOT GETTING
earthjuice: Who did you sign your first
record deal with?
LESTER-CHAMBERS: After doing the 1st season of Shindig,ABC
Paramount signed us to a 3 record deal but sold our contract(without our
knowledge ) to Vault. Who never paid us a dime for 5 albums, overseas sales, etc
for the next 30 years.
April: have you been able to receive anything from
LESTER-CHAMBERS: Not as penny from Vault and now Rhino owns the catalog
and is doing the same thing.
earthjuice: That sounds like a story of a large
corporation taking advantage of some young men from the south....how old were
you at the time?
LESTER-CHAMBERS: I was 23 &; knew nothing about the
business only that we could sing and loved it onstage.
April: Rhino doesn't
pay you anything for your music? I had assumed that Rhino was a godsend for
earthjuice: What can you tell us about this
earthjuice: PLAINTIFFS: LESTER CHAMBERS d/b/a The Chambers Brothers,
: CARL GARDNER d/b/a The Coasters, BILL PINKNEY d/b/a The Original Drifters,
TONY SILVESTER d/b/a The Main Ingredient- AGAINST DEFENDANTS: TIME WARNER, INC.
SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT, INC COLUMBIARECORDS and BMG ENTERTAINMENT, INC.
UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP, INC. MP3.COM, INC
LESTER-CHAMBERS: The big guys(record
labels) are still screwing us. We didn't get paid when our albums were out &
now on CD's and now the internet.
earthjuice: Is that lawsuit still
April: I can see how you can get jerked with the internet but with
CDs and LPs there must be a paper trail of what you are owed
This case was for pension embezzlement & it has been over 8 years of suing
both AFTRA &; all the labels. It took until last year for the judge to allow
us discovery in the royalty files.
April: unless you were bamboozled into
signing away your rights
earthjuice: I see that MP3.com is one of the
LESTER-CHAMBERS: I also sued MP3.com this year and didn't even get
a chance in front of the judge & after MP3 paid Sony 20 billion the judge
threw my case out.
earthjuice: "discovery" (that sounds like it's a LONG way
off from putting some DOLLARS in your pocket?)
April: corporations are good at
delaying things, hoping the plaintiffs will get tired and go
LESTER-CHAMBERS: Columbia kept us so broke we couldn't fight
LESTER-CHAMBERS: We went 22 years without receiving a dime from Columbia
even though "Time Has Come Today" was used in 30 films & TV; overseas sales,
earthjuice: Somehow I have a feeling that NOT ONE CENT of the 20 Million
dollars found it's way into your hands?
LESTER-CHAMBERS: The record companies
feel they are the only ones to profit from the internet.
like there should be laws protecting artists such as yourself, (but then again,
we ALL know who's REALLY controlling things)
earthjuice: It must be pretty
tough to try to fight these big companies in court, they must have an unlimited
Billy: earthjuice: ...who really is controlling things?
Big Business runs things (in my opinion)
LESTER-CHAMBERS: Yeah, the RIAA have
tried to keep the artists all down. That's why singer should have their own
union. If you are a singer on an album, AFTRA is your union, but if you are also
a musician, then in steps the Musicians Union. Sometimes, they conflict.
April: what are you doing or what can you do to get what you
LESTER-CHAMBERS: Only one lawyer , Larry Feldman has been behind me.
With no $ it has been hard.
earthjuice: Thank goodness you have some
WHAT'S RACE GOT TO DO WITH IT?
earthjuice: Based on your
conversations with other artists, is your case typical?
never thought my career would be where it's at right now, especially with how
popular the blues is right now.
earthjuice: Can you explain,
LESTER-CHAMBERS: Most black artists from the 50's &; 60's,
earthjuice: Are you saying that it doesn't happen also to white artists
from the 50's &; 60's?
LESTER-CHAMBERS: Most black artist had no rights,
had to give up their publishing & no royalties to be able to sign. Don't you
remember Little Richard telling how he lost all of his publishing.
We have some white artists on Soul Patrol, such as Joey Dee, Jon Bowman, John
Sebastian, & John Mellencamp who can also describe rip-offs that have
happened to them
LESTER-CHAMBERS: White artists usually had a white manager
earthjuice: How does having a white manager make a
LESTER-CHAMBERS: Remember this was 1965 in the middle of the black
uprising and the record companies was all white and not use to even dealing with
anyone powerful that was black.
earthjuice: Did the Chambers Brothers have
Black management back in 1965?
LESTER-CHAMBERS: Our first manager was
earthjuice: Ok.......it all makes perfect sense to me
LESTER-CHAMBERS: Our style
of music scared al l the executives at Columbia because we were crazy hippies
playing an unusual style of funk, blues, rock, & gospel all combined. We
were told by the president of Columbia records that we weren't going to even
think about recording "Time Has Come Today" &; that we must sell it to a
white group on Columbia.
earthjuice: I guess they had a difficult time trying
to "market" the Chambers Brothers?
April: how did you manage to keep the song
and record it
LESTER-CHAMBERS: "Time' was such a hit with our audiences &
we refused to stop singing it so the producer took us to Hollywood out of Clive
Davis's control and we recorded it on one track.
LESTER-CHAMBERS: We played a
lot of dates with Santana. Its wonderful about his recent success.
You had problems with Clive Davis???...... the media portrays him as being such
a friend to the Black artist?
April: It's great that you didn't just do what
earthjuice: They constantly show him hugging and kissing all
over people like Whitney Houston and Luther Vandross
LESTER-CHAMBERS: Clive Davis is such a
phony. Don't get me started with him. Believe me he only likes us cuz we make
him big $$. Did you ever read a good book on the record industry called "Hit
Men". The first 125 pages deals with his embezzling of the artists funds on
Columbia and how the feds brought him up on 6 counts of
earthjuice: The author of that book is Fredrick Damien (I
LESTER-CHAMBERS: Read this book. It also tells how all the labels
screwed us and had "roasts" boasting about never paying their artists a penny of
royalties. This book sure answered a lot of questions about what happened to us
3 months before his fall.
earthjuice: I have a copy of the book, I read it
several years ago and it's fascinating
April: I have never read it but I will as soon as I can get a
LESTER-CHAMBERS: Imagine our predicament, we were not doing the
"acceptable" black act like the Impressions, Temptations, etc. so we were a
problem and refused to put our instruments down and we also had the courage to
buy a home in Stamford, Conn, that had no blacks.
April: must have been viewed
as militant troublemakers
earthjuice: Breaking down stereotypes.......that is
something that our people have forgotten how to do
LESTER-CHAMBERS: our career
really suffered from our refusal to do what the white man said we could
BLACK ROCK (an "oxymoron"?)
earthjuice: Switching gears
for a moment, .........did you ever have any association with other Black
rockers like, Arthur Lee or Jimi Hendrix?
LESTER-CHAMBERS: Great! I thought I
was going to have to give you a history lesson on who ran the record industry in
the early days.
April: were you considered more acceptable because of your
style of music?
LESTER-CHAMBERS: We knew Arthur Lee from our early Whisky -a
-Go -Go days. We then Met Jimi in New York right before he left for Europe. We
bonded instantly and my brother Willie was good friends and hung out all the
time. There is a CD from Jimi jamming at a Club called the Scene in New York
that I am on as the harmonica player with Jim Morrison.
everyone. God bless you Lester. Hope you get paid.
earthjuice: Miles Davis, Santana?
LESTER-CHAMBERS: I have some
great stories about my Aries friend, Miles. He & I were close friends in New
York. He called me Wally.
earthjuice: Miles is da Man, his 75th birthday is
coming up soon
earthjuice: What's on the horizon for
you now Lester?
April: Mr Chambers I have thoroughly enjoyed this chat. Thank you for your
time. Goodnight everyone
earthjuice: Lester, you get all the props in the
world from me...
earthjuice: I remember "sneaking down the dial" to the white
radio stations to listen to your music
earthjuice: and wondering why it wasn't
being played down at the other end of the dial
earthjuice: This session has
been most enlightening and when it gets posted on the web I think that many
folks will be quite surprised by some of the things that you had to say here
LESTER-CHAMBERS: Well folks. I played a club last night in Hollywood,
so I am kinda burned out, but it was nice chatting with you all. Let's do it
earthjuice: I have heard some of your recent material, it's VERY FUNKY stuff, people need to check you out when you do club dates and festivals
earthjuice: Many people think of the Chambers Bros and think ... "Uncle
Tom".....just like Hendrix
earthjuice: (they ain't gonna think that no
earthjuice: Yall laid down the
REAL DEAL and when people read this transcript, many folks will have a far
different impression of you than they had before
LESTER-CHAMBERS: Thanks for
LESTER-CHAMBERS: Good! I was hoping some old hippie fans would
have joined us but most of our fans were white.
LESTER-CHAMBERS: I don't even
think any of our songs were played on soul stations that is why were are not
listed in any books on soul singers.
earthjuice: here is something I have
learned... People who take risks, break down stereotypes, etc are the real
heroes of our society
earthjuice: those who dare to be different, those who
have the courage to do what is right, and those who go along with the crowd are
the actual Uncle Toms
LESTER-CHAMBERS: Our career sure suffered from our
defiance of the power.
LESTER-CHAMBERS: Everyone credits "Sly for what doors
we opened for black artists.
LESTER-CHAMBERS: Check out www.bluepower.com. A
writer reviewed our show last night in Hollywood.
LESTER-CHAMBERS: It was
glowing. Michele Phillips(Mamas & Papas) was there. We talked about the
earthjuice: nice review
LESTER-CHAMBERS: Well, goodnight. We will talk
tomorrow. I remember a festival (Devonshire Downs here in L.A) where he rode to
the festival in a limo with Jimi & Tah Mahal. 3 black men in a limo when
they pulled in the fairgrounds they witnessed the police openly hitting white
fans who were trying to knock the fencing down.
LESTER-CHAMBERS: I was the
only one really scared because it reminded me of how blacks in the south were
treated by the police. Jimi was raised in Seatle and Tah in New
earthjuice: We shall Lester.....thank you so much for taking
the time to talk with us
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