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Time Has Come Today, Just Not Royalties
March 4, 2012 1:50 PM   Subscribe

The story of Lester Chambers of The Chambers Brothers in one picture. A cautionary tale of working for an RIAA label (and Clive Davis) and what happens when your 'legendary hit' peaks at #11. At least he has a friend in Yoko Ono.
posted by oneswellfoop (20 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
The time still hasn't come I guess. But perhaps it's on the way...
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:07 PM on March 4, 2012


just remember - they're fighting copyright violations for the ARTISTS
posted by pyramid termite at 2:15 PM on March 4, 2012 [13 favorites]


I wonder if his brothers Joe & Willie Chambers got paid for it. Everyone knows -- or should -- that the only way you make money off records is by writing the songs, not singing them. Everybody gets screwed on mechanical royalties.
posted by Fnarf at 2:51 PM on March 4, 2012


Everyone knows -- or should -- that the only way you make money off records is by writing the songs, not singing them owning the record company.

It's amazing to me how absolutely shameless the music industry is about this stuff, similar to some of the non-unionized sports like boxing.
posted by Forktine at 3:03 PM on March 4, 2012


Everybody gets screwed on mechanical royalties.

A big reason for which (that I've believed ever since I worked in radio in the '70s) is that the labels gave the records away to radio stations, considering airplay 'free advertising' while the songwriting organizations, BMI and ASCAP, required them to pay royalties. It also went far toward the common belief that 'music is free' and radio is worthless.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:04 PM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


If there's a fundamental difference between the business models of a record company and a pimp I haven't found it.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:33 PM on March 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wish he would put a paypal link in his post. I would send him a couple of dollars. In fact, why don't all of these guys have links for voluntary donations? I would be glad to send a dollar to General Johnson everytime I listen to Patches. Although, on reflection, that would beggar me.
posted by Balok at 4:10 PM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


From one of the articles, "Only brothers Joe and Willie share the songwriting credit - and the royalties - to the group's one, great hit".
posted by mrbill at 5:16 PM on March 4, 2012


Lester Chambers did play the cowbell on the Time Has Come Today, though. He should get some props for that. Viva more cowbell!
posted by jonp72 at 5:25 PM on March 4, 2012


If there's a fundamental difference between the business models of a record company and a pimp I haven't found it.

Sometimes pimps die.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:33 PM on March 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


*fuming with blind rage*
posted by liza at 7:27 PM on March 4, 2012


For posterity, in case the link doesn't last forever, this is a photo of Chambers holding up his gold album and a sign that says
I AM the former Lead Singer of a 60’s BAND. I performed before thousands at Atlanta Pop 2, Miami Pop, Newport Pop, Atlantic Pop. I did NOT squander my money on drugs or a fancy home. I went from 1967-1994 before I saw my first Royalty Check.

The Music Giants I recorded with only paid me for 7 of my Albums.

I have NEVER seen a penny in Royalties from my other 10 Albums I recorded. Our Hit Song was licensed to over 100 Films, T.V. & Commercials WITHOUT our permission. One Major TV Network used our song for a national Commercial and my payment was $625. dollars. I am now 72, trying to live on $1200 a month. Sweet Relief, a music charity is taking donations for me.

Only the 1% of Artist can afford to sue.

I AM THE 99%
posted by XMLicious at 7:45 PM on March 4, 2012


I wish he would put a paypal link in his post. I would send him a couple of dollars.

There's a link in that post to his Sweet Relief fund page that accepts donations by credit card.
posted by XMLicious at 7:50 PM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's wonderful to see the organization founded by Victoria Williams still doing good work.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:52 PM on March 4, 2012


The Chambers Brothers were a great band. And this is a bummer. I was listening to SHOUT! earlier today. Their live version of "Shout" on that album is maybe the best one ever.

Stories like this are too common.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 11:00 PM on March 4, 2012


Also, you might be familiar with the famous cowbell and guitar riff from Time Has Come Today, but generally, only a snippet is used or a radio edit is played. The real track is over 10 minutes long and is a completely awesome psychedelic noise guitar / echo pedal / screaming vocal jam. There is also a fantastic live version on youtube.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 11:09 PM on March 4, 2012


Also, from Wikipedia:

"In 2003, the home of Lola and Lester Chambers was broken in to and their record collection was stolen. There were over sixty Chambers Brothers albums and over one hundred singles stolen. Lola Chambers had spent twenty five years collecting Chambers Brothers records at various venues. She wanted to leave these for their sons."

:(
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 11:16 PM on March 4, 2012


Without being a douche (but inevitably being a douche) what did he do in the 44 years after? I'm not sure if the record industry, for all its faults, is entirely to blame. And why is everything the 1%'s fault now (though admittedly it usually is in a roundabout way).
posted by Damienmce at 11:20 PM on March 4, 2012


Without being a douche (but inevitably being a douche) what did he do in the 44 years after?

If we're to believe what he says, he recorded 17 albums, didn't get paid for 10 of them, and waited 20-odd years to get paid for the others.

I'd like to second the Sweet Relief page that XMLicious linked to.

I only know of the Chambers Brothers thanks to the Ramones version of Time Has Come Today, but this'll make me check out some more of their stuff. Thanks, oneswellfoop.
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:23 AM on March 5, 2012


I'm not sure if the record industry, for all its faults, is entirely to blame.

You know, unless you are sure, maybe you should reign in the victim blaming. You didn't even bother to do a two second search -- or even read the original post, apparently -- to see if the artist had done anything in 44 years, and then you used your own ignorance of the situation to insinuate that he was somehow at fault for being ripped off by a multinational corporation.

I am sure: That was legitimately douchey. If you have an accusation, research it and back it up. Don't use vague implications and unresearched questions to suggest somebody is at fault for getting fucked over.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:12 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


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