60 Year Music Veteran Lester Chambers Tries To Avoid Poverty and Homelessness - Declares "Foul" Of Past Music Industry Dealings and Missing Royalties

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If not for the past generosity of friend Yoko Ono and musician's charity Sweet Relief, music great Lester Chambers of The Chambers Brothers would still be homeless. At 72, and trying to survive on 12k a year, he posts photo and personal story that goes viral across the internet.

photo that went viral

"I didn't know what to do anymore" said Chambers, a three time cancer survivor. "I'm 72 and a little over a year ago I was sleeping on a music studio couch and then a house under construction with no roof."

Lester Chambers is a kind, joyful and intelligent man. He has been a professional musician for over 60 years and at one time performed in front of tens of thousands of fans around the world. Now at 72 years of age he, like many Americans, is finding it difficult to keep a roof over his head and food in the cupboards. Where his story differs is that his music and voice has been on hundreds of albums, movies, TV shows and commercials, and he claims, most of the royalties have not been paid or have been hidden within a legal labyrinth.

This past weekend the demurring and soft spoken Mr Chambers had had enough. A picture of Lester Chambers was posted on Facebook, holding one of his Gold Records in front of his face and had a hand written note attached. The note went on to list career highlights, limited or missing royalties, and the artists difficulty surviving on a meager income. Since the photo's release, thousands have picked up and shared the story. As is typical of internet commentary, the range of response runs from sympathy and support to scorn or dismissive quips. But the majority of postings are inquisitive about a time in music when all was not fair and folly. Many responders have also gone online to donate to assist Mr. Chambers.

"I didn't know what to do anymore" said Chambers, a three time cancer survivor. "I'm 72 and a little over a year ago I was sleeping on a music studio couch and then a house under construction with no roof." Family members trying to find assistance for Lester contacted Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, who with the generous assistance of Yoko Ono, were able to arrange for housing and urgent medical treatment. "So many people wanted to help" Chambers continued. "I asked Sweet Relief to stop raising funds and tried to earn enough by playing live gigs. But the shows just cant pay enough and i am almost back where i started"

While Lester Chambers is grateful that fans and friends have been offering help by way of donations, he would really like to find a way to rectify his past royalty issue. His wife Lola, who is located in the Los Angeles area had this to say. "For over 30 years we have been writing letters and making phone calls to past record labels to try and understand the disparities and confusion of both Chambers Brothers royalties and pensions. We have now resorted to the internet to get our story out. The Chambers Brothers recorded 18 albums; 12 of which they never received a penny in royalties nor payment into their pension fund and have also been released on cds. again receiving nothing. I have uncovered over 200 compilations albums and 50 new compilations cds that have never been on any royalty statement. Until we can afford a good lawyer, these companies turn a deaf ear to all of my pleas for justice."

"We are grateful to know a wonderful artist such as Lester Chambers" said Rob Max, Executive Director at Sweet Relief Musicians Fund. "We continue to raise funds for Lester that we use to pay for housing, medical and sustenance related expenses." Max continued, " We hear from hundreds of musicians every month who are fighting cancer, ALS, MS and other dibilitating illness - and they cant make ends meet. A public story such as Lester's helps raise awareness of the many artists suffering similar hardship"

Its hard to predict what will come out of the recent events online that have brought so much attention to Mr. Chambers. For his part its simple. " I just wish to sing my song, play my harmonica and know the rent is paid" Said Chambers. After 60 years in music it doesn't seem like a lot to ask.


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