True to the spirit of Time Has Come Today, The Chambers Brothers’ classic, perennially popular 1968 song that launched the four sibling vocal ensemble to global superstardom, Willie Chambers continues to bring a timeless energy and musical excitement and innovation to audiences today, whether he’s playing rock and roll or the gospel music that first inspired him and his famous siblings to write, record, and perform.
Longtime Chambers Brothers fans and rock historians well remember the time in the 60s and 70s when, like their West Coast contemporaries Sly and the Family Stone, the constantly touring groups shattered racial and musical divides to forge an incendiary fusion of funk, gospel, blues, and psychedelia. In the years before they achieved household name status – which came via a string of appearances in the Big Apple circa 1965, introduced by none other than Bob Dylan – the Brothers were a church-born and bred group that broke ground and pushed cultural boundaries.
The group helped draw more than 400,000 fans to Atlanta Pop II. The Chambers Brother’s global smashes People Get Ready, Can’t Turn You Loose, and Love, Peace and Happiness, welded together rock’s electric energy with musical roots from the Brother’s native Mississippi into exhilarating masterpieces that remain classics today. When the Brothers performed at the Ash Grove in Los Angeles, they became the first group to bring gospel music into nightclubs and coffee houses. They were the first to “simulcast” out of San Francisco on KPIX Television, the first to tour Europe with a light show, and the first innovative black rock group to be mentioned in the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Willie Chambers was born and raised in Lee County, Mississippi. The son of a humble sharecropper family, he moved to Los Angeles in 1954, where he began performing gospel and folk throughout Southern California. In 1965, the addition of white drummer Brian Keenan not only made the Chambers Brothers an interracial group, but also pushed their music closer to Rock & Roll. The group signed to Columbia to issue Time Has Come Today, scoring a major pop hit with the title track, an 11-minute psychedelic soul epic in its original album incarnation. The song has been used in over 100 film and TV soundtracks, including Oliver Stone’s The Doors, Spike Lee’s Crooklyn, Coming Home and Girl, Interrupted. The classic song Love, Peace, and Happiness soon followed.
Over the past fifteen years, Willie has led two Los Angeles-based bands that added to his legacies in both the rock and gospel worlds. In the mid-to-late 90s, billing himself as a solo artist, he toured extensively with his rock-based unit, performing at clubs and festivals on the West Coast and Canada, including dates in San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and Spokane.
Armed with the love, peace, and happiness he carries in his heart, Willie Chambers still has a magnetic way of reaching into the hearts and souls of music fans everywhere. Sharing his music throughout the world, he will continue to do his part to convey the message to the world that we can live together as one.