George Chambers, bassist and vocalist for psychedelic soul greats the Chambers Brothers, has died. As Rolling Stone reports, the band announced Chambers’ death on their Facebook page over the weekend. No cause of death has been reported. Chambers was 88.
The Chambers Brothers were actual brothers; they grew up together in Carthage, Mississippi. George, the oldest of the brothers, was drafted into the Army in 1952. Two years later, after being discharged, he moved to Los Angeles, where he was soon joined by his three younger brothers Joe, Lester, and Willie. In 1954, they formed a band together.
The Chambers Brothers started out on the gospel circuit and eventually moved on to folk coffeehouses. Pete Seeger booked them at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, where they heard the electrified Bob Dylan set that changed folk music. Soon enough, the Chambers Brothers were themselves toying with psychedelic music. This led them to writing and recording the 11-minute psychedelic soul opus “Time Has Come Today” in 1967. The epic, sweeping song peaked at #11, and it remains the group’s best-known work.
The Chambers Brothers never managed to follow up their one big hit, and they broke up in the mid-’70s. George returned to gospel and became deacon of his own church. Over the years, he occasionally reunited with his brothers for live shows.
Below, watch a couple of videos of the Chambers Brothers playing live.