Chambers Brothers bassist George Chambers has died

The group were influential across psychedelic, gospel and blues genres.

George Chambers, the bassist of The Chambers Brothers, has died. He was 88. The news was broken through a post on the band’s Facebook page:

The group, consisting of core members George Chambers on bass, Joe Chambers and Willie Chambers on guitar and Lester Chambers on harmonica, started in the 1950s in Mississipi as a purely gospel group. Shortly after their formation, George was drafted into the Korean war. Upon his return, they began to explore the Los Angeles folk scene in addition to the gospel circuit, evolving their sound and gaining support from artists such as Jack Elliot and Barbara Dane. They would go on to tour with Barbara Dane, with the addition of drummer Brian Keenan taking the group’s sound closer than ever to rock.

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Their genre-fusing tendencies would see the release of the band’s best-known hit, Time Has Come Today. The 11-minute song combined soul with psychedelic rock elements, and has seen extensive use in film soundtracks. The edited single version reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100. The group would break up temporarily in 1972, reforming and signing to Avco Records in 1974. They went on to tour sporadically.

Willie Chambers, in a 2018 interview with Songfacts, notes George’s reluctance to play Time Has Come Today: “He thought it was silly and ridiculous and every time we were to play he said, ‘We’re not going to do that song, are we?’” George, as Willie puts it, was “semi-retired” from the band, shifting focus to signing Gospel music and working at his church. Three of the Brothers, Willie, Joe and George, played live together for the last time at the Grammy Museum in 2016.

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