The 99% of the Music Biz; The Chambers Brothers’ Stolen Crown

In the 1960’s, a psychedelic band called The Chambers Brothers made it big delivering real-world wisdom over imaginative arrangements full of spacey warp-outs and grinding rhythms. Their most popular hit “Time Has Come Today” drives a similar beat and feel to The Rolling Stones “I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction)”. Today, the lyrics of this song are eerily prophetic for lead singer Lester Chambers:

The rules have changed today (Hey)
I have no place to stay (Hey)
I’m thinking about the subway (Hey)
My love has flown away (Hey)
My tears have come and gone (Hey)
Oh my Lord, I have to roam (Hey)
I have no home (Hey)
I have no home (Hey)”

Lester has been turning out albums for over 4 decades, yet in a recent plea for his fans’ sympathy, the icon went onto Facebook on March 3rd with an idea from his wife Lola and son Dylan. Posing with one of his gold records held over a long handwritten sign, Lester pleaded with fans to share his unfortunate truths about the music business and its afterglow:


Within just 4 days, the post has received nearly 10,000 shares, and the movement is growing. Lester is taking contributions to help assist with his most basic and pressing living needs, and this viral attention will hopefully bring the subject into the hearts of his adoring and inspiring fans. It is awful to think how long and hard this man worked and to be ripped off when anticipating such deserved fortunes for a smooth retirement. May this serve as a lesson to all musicians to hire a music lawyer and protect their creative works.

Lester’s fundraising campaign is of a personal nature. Chambers insists he never was even able to afford a “fancy home” or a drug addiction even if he wanted (true shame for a rock star)! The artist states he went from 1967-1994 before ever receiving one royalty check. Imagine the day!! And yet, think of all the debt that could be accumulate while waiting….and waiting.

Therefore, requesting funds for medical needs and urgent living expenses, Sweet Relief initiated a fundraiser to elicit the donations from his leagues of adoring fans, who have not forgotten the passionate psychedelic singer and his brothers. Donate for Lester today- Every bit helps! We also would appreciate your sharing this post for the REAL STORY to continue gaining momentum.

Respectively, Chambers is not the only star who has retired to find there is still no money coming in from timeless proven hits or even entire albums. Sly Stone caught headlines last year regarding the rumor he was sleeping in a van and smoking crack in a South Central ghetto. While Sly claimed he simply preferred his mobile lifestyle, and continued to make songs in the back of his vehicle, detailed news came out of a lawsuit of several hundred million in royalties withheld from Sly by his former business manager. It was apparent and appalling to fans to realize the man who had given us so much was living in this state, especially at his age and condition. Sly did ask for help at this time, requesting that he be recruited for tracks with pop star Lady Gaga to help him revamp his career. Let the conversation from the following video illustrate some of the shady tricks music executives have pulled on our beloved Sly, including pushing drugs on him in order to take over his financial affairs:

Additionally, and this may or may not be rumors, this year several past and current members of George Clinton’s band P-Funk have been reported to FMN to be homeless, if not living hand to mouth from the Dr. Those said to be needing a helping hand include the family of Garry “Starchild” Shider, who co-wrote so many of the P-Funk hits, and yet in less than two years from his passing in 2010, Garry’s wife was facing eviction- where was the funky family bond then? Meanwhile, long-time senior vocalist P-Nut was couch crashing in the Hollywood Hills for two months over the summer. Just last month, Kim Manning was able to round up $4000 funds through the donations of her loving fans to finish her first official album , while Kendra Foster has been seen catching new gigs with D’Angelo in Europe, bringing questions of the group’s path for the next year (in full ensemble, anyway). George, who recently was awarded with a doctorate from Berklee College of Music, and whose networth is estimated at $18 million by Forbes, is now rumored to be experiencing the same fate of withheld royalties, leading to a Kickstarter campaign to generate $60,000 touring funds for the band’s next haul. But ask former members Billy Bass or Jerome Brailey, who left his group long ago due to disagreements in George’s management style, and who knows, they may heed warnings to the current lineup to wise up and start bringing in extra streams of dough. Inside sources have allege that George takes 60% of the cut from every show, dispersing the rest amongst his caravan of funkateers, who may number over 20 individuals. In effect (and in assumption) The Man is able to save and support his family and projects, and his contemporaries must continue scouring for work to survive. While this may be just ifne for a young twenty-something living their dream, eventually you wake up, realize it’s been ten years or more, there are bills to be paid, and there’s nothing to show for it except to keep going. Keep this is mind when you see those funk stars with personal album fundraisers and you stop to wonder why they aren’t loaded after 10 years of touring and recording with the biggest names on earth. If we can’t hurry to stop the injustices of those we idolize, the least we can do is throw some change in the hat to show our respect and thanks for the genius imparted under manipulated pretense. Time has come today that we remember all the “free” music we’ve downloaded and think about the artists living on nill. We may not owe it, but we can show it- pass that collection plate around.

Feeling the giving spirit? Throw a dollar to “The Guvnah of the Galaxy” Jtronius Qwazar’s campaign started this week 😉 and KEEP THE MUSIC (AND THE MUSICIANS) ALIVE AND WELL!!

3 thoughts on “The 99% of the Music Biz; The Chambers Brothers’ Stolen Crown

  1. The Chamber Brothers were one of my all time favorites with their funky, soulful, psychedelic style and were an early influence on my writing style as well as Sly Stone. This is typical of the major labels, especially when these artist were in their prime. The Chambers were out of Arkansas which was another thing that I remember about them being from there myself. It is such a shame that these shady managers and so called entertainment lawyers have a long reputation of taking advantage of the only people that become their meal tickets. The Chamber Brothers Live was probably my favorite with Love, Peace And Happiness a half hour cut. Slay And The Family Stone Live was also a great album. There should be some sort of justice and retribution for the way these legends have been ripped off and are having to suffer so late in their lives. This is completely in line with the corporate mindset where people are just collateral damage. I hope that some justice is found for these greats. As for George Clinton, I had heard he was notorious for stiffing his bands, much like James Brown, another legend that finally got paid his dues. It’s sad that these guys make it off the artistry of their sidemen, only to turn around and cheat them. I seen this a lot when I was coming up and was on the Detroit scene as a young writer as well as when I was hanging out in Dayton Ohio the home of some of the greatest funk groups ever, including the Ohio Players, whom I had the pleasure of working with their keyboardist, Billy Beck. I couldn’t believe how these guys had lost an empire that they built, including their jewelry, mansions, cars and private jet for income tax evasion among other things. I also knew Junior Walker and most of his sidemen. His original guitar player, Willie Woods, who co-wrote many of his early hits, became a musical mentor to me. I am also close with the surviving children and found out that after Junior died, that his label had taken all his publishing rights, leaving his children to have to battle to reclaim them which I don’t think they ever did. There were also a lot of knock off bands touring in Canada and Europe using his name after his death. The music business has always been a very treacherous business and if you don’t know the business end of it, and I don’t care how big you become, the record company’s will always come out way ahead. My heart goes out to all these guys and I hope that they find some kind of poetic justice..

  2. Uh huh.. Well, Lester wasn’t too sharp.. Why did he wait 26 years before raising a stink about this? I saw the Chambers Brothers on New Years Eve 1969 at The Fillmore East. – helluva good show. These guys had a lot of exposure and were all over the radio. Unfortunately, Lester’s story isn’t that uncommon. Anybody who has been there knows that The LA-New York Pop Music business was controlled by “The Tribe”. like the film, TV entertainment and other media industries still are..Although the new media network paradigms are breaking it up, the music corporate scene was always a ruthless meat grinder of a scam where young talent was sucked in, chewed up in the machinery and spit down the drain by crawling scum of The Earth with names like Rosenfeld, Goldberg and Geffen. The ploy was necessary to keep providing fresh and creative material to the drug and booze addled hedonist dead-beats who had already been well established in “The Club”.

  3. And what about the videos that are commonly linked to articles about this? Many of them are blocked or removed because of Copyright Claims. Are these legit, or are they his former managers trying to silence the information?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s