The Chambers Brothers

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The Chambers Brothers
Chambers Brothers 1970.JPG
The band in 1970.
Background information
OriginLos Angeles, California, United States
GenresSoul, psychedelic rock, funk, R&B, disco, psychedelic soul
Years active1954–1972, 1974–present
LabelsColumbia, Avco Embassy
Associated actsLester Chambers
Past membersLester Chambers
Joe Chambers
Willie Chambers
George Chambers
Brian Keenan

(See members)
 
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The Chambers Brothers
Chambers Brothers 1970.JPG
The band in 1970.
Background information
OriginLos Angeles, California, United States
GenresSoul, psychedelic rock, funk, R&B, disco, psychedelic soul
Years active1954–1972, 1974–present
LabelsColumbia, Avco Embassy
Associated actsLester Chambers
Past membersLester Chambers
Joe Chambers
Willie Chambers
George Chambers
Brian Keenan

(See members)

The Chambers Brothers are a soul music group, best known for its 1968 hit record, the 11-minute long song "Time Has Come Today". The group was part of the wave of new music that integrated American blues and gospel traditions with modern psychedelic and rock elements. Based on their Southern roots, the brothers brought a raw authenticity to their recordings and live performances that was missing from many other acts of that era. Their music has been kept alive through heavy use in film soundtracks.

Early career[edit]

The Chambers Brothers first honed their skills as members of the choir in their Baptist church. This set up ended in 1952 when older brother George was drafted into the army. After his discharge George moved to Los Angeles. The other Chambers brothers soon settled there as well. As a foursome, they began performing gospel and folk throughout the Southern California region in 1954, but they more or less remained unknown until appearing in New York City in 1965.[1] Also in 1965, Brian Keenan joined the group as their drummer. Brian's eerie drumming on "Time Has Come Today" was one of the elements of success of that hit.

In the early 1960s, these four brothers from Mississippi, Joe and Willie on guitar, Lester on harmonica, and George on washtub bass, started to venture outside the gospel circuit, playing at coffeehouses that booked folk acts. They played at places like The Ash Grove, one of Los Angeles's most popular folk clubs. It became a favorite haunt of theirs and brought them into contact with Hoyt Axton, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Reverend Gary Davis, and Barbara Dane. Dane became a great supporter, performing and recording with the brothers. She took them on tour with her and introduced them to Pete Seeger, who helped put the Chambers Brothers on the bill of the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. One of the songs they performed, "I Got It", appeared on the Newport Folk Festival 1965 compilation LP, which was issued on the Vanguard label.[2]

They were becoming more accepted in the folk community, but, like many on the folk circuit, they were looking to electrify their music and become more rock and roll. Guitarist Joe Chambers recalled in a May 1994 Goldmine article that people at the Newport Folk Festival were breaking down fences and rushing to the stage. "Newport had never seen or heard anything like that." After the group finished and the crowd finally settled down, the MC came up and said "Whether you know it or not, that was rock'n'roll." That night they played at a post-concert party for festival performers and went to a recording session of the newly electrified Bob Dylan.[2] Now having gone electric George would trade in his washtub bass for a Danelectro bass guitar.

Shortly after this, the group recorded its debut album People Get Ready.

Time Has Come Today[edit]

The band scored its only major hit in 1968 with "Time Has Come Today" (written by Joe & Willie Chambers), from the group's similarly named third album, The Time Has Come. The song spent five consecutive weeks at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100, just missing the Top Ten.

Later years[edit]

Later incarnations of the group included session guitarist Steve Hunter (known for his work with Alice Cooper)[3] and session whiz Stephen Patt (Northwind)[citation needed], freeing the brothers up to become front men, not just instrumentalists.[citation needed]

However, due to a succession of dishonest promoters and managers, the group found it difficult to build on this success and eventually split up in 1972. The 1972 album they recorded for Columbia, Oh! My God, remains unreleased. They reformed in 1974 to record Unbonded and Right Move (1975) for the Avco label. In 1976 they released the final Recorded Live In Concert on Mars for the Roxbury label. They have toured irregularly since.

They were signed to support Maria Muldaur on her Gospel Nights album. They also made commercials for Levi's jeans.

Lester moved to New York and formed a band with former Electric Flag bassist Harvey Brooks.

Guitarists Willie and Joe would find work as session men; George went back to singing gospel music [4] and would later become a deacon of his church.

Keenan retired to Connecticut where he set up his own recording studio,[4] plied his trade as a carpenter[citation needed], and died of heart failure in 1985.[4]

Art Ramsey, was hired as a replacement drummer. He performed live, on-the-road and in many different cities and venues with the Chambers Brothers band after Keenan's departure. Later, LA Session drummer Fabian Jolivet joined the band for a 1997 tour that ended with the full line up playing a Gospel set at the legendary 1960's LA venue The Ash Grove, Santa Monica, CA.

In 2006 Guitarist Willie Chambers brought the house down, sitting in with a group called Vince and the Invinceables at a benefit concert for Arthur Lee of the group Love.[5][6]

Billboard singles and albums listing[edit]

Billboard singles listing[edit]

Billboard albums listing[edit]

Discography[edit]

Record albums[edit]

CD albums[edit]

Compilations[edit]

LP

CD

Contributions[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Reviews[edit]