About The Bay: Bay Area Music Legend Emerges From Homelessness

PETALUMA (KCBS) – Back in the day, Lester Chambers was nothing short of a local rock ‘n roll legend. The Petaluma resident and Mississippi native was lead singer for The Chambers Brothers, which hit the big time in the 60s with hits like “Time Has Come Today.”

Ironically, recently, he felt that he himself was running out of time.

“I was very ill and at the same time homeless,” the now 71-year-old described his recent run of bad luck.

KCBS’ Mike Sugerman Reports:

That was just six months ago – the result of a lifetime of fighting cancer, tumors, back and eye problems, which were only exacerbated by financial troubles. He was squatting in a Sonoma County studio.

“You know how you can get into a tailspin? Big at the top and small at the bottom, well the big top went all the way down to the bottom,” he explained the fall after his incredible, meteoric rise. “And left me spinning around in the mud.”

Friends from back in the day, including Yoko Ono, pitched in to help Chambers find a more suitable housing situation and medical care – ensuring he had a legitimate shot at getting back on his feet.

Now, another friend, the legendary guitarist and “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” co-writer Steve Cropper is coming out to perform with Chambers at Yoshi’s in San Francisco on Thursday night.

Chambers planned to sing a number of Cropper’s songs during what he hoped would be his official comeback concert.

“I’m singing better than I ever did, ever did before,” he declared emphatically. “I’ve been extremely blessed, again.”

What a comeback it could be – it wasn’t that long ago that audiences screamed at the mere sight and sound of Chambers and his siblings.

Not only was Chambers the lead singer of the group, he garnered a reputation for making the cowbell a legitimate musical instrument.

If all goes well on Thursday night, it just may be that Chambers’ time has come – again.

“I’m so better, it ain’t funny,” he remarked. “I am so better, I can’t wait to tell the world.”

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

More from Mike Sugerman

More From CBS San Francisco

Get The New CBS SF Bay Area Local App
Got Our Weather App?

Listen Live