They make up an intriguing pair.
Lester is 72 years old. He and his siblings made up The Chambers Brothers, the popular rock/soul/psychedelic/gospel music group from the 1960s and ’70s that played at huge events with the likes of The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Steppenwolf and more, famous for songs like the anthemic “Time Has Come Today” and their cover of the classic “People Get Ready” with Lester handling lead vocals. Once The Chambers Brothers faded from the global spotlight (but not without “Time Has Come Today” living on through multiple uses in film, television, and advertising) and once Lester began experiencing health problems, times became hard for him. Lester is more “old school.”
Alexis is 29 years old. He’s an internet entrepreneur, activist and inventor. His claim to fame has come as being a co-founder of the San Francisco-based social news and entertainment website Reddit, which was acquired by Condé Nast Publications in October 2006 and for which Ohanian serves on its board of directors. In 2007, Ohanian launched Breadpig, an “uncorporation” that produces merchandise and gives the proceeds to charity. In 2010, Ohanian helped launch the travel search website Hipmunk, where he acts as an advisor. As an activist, Ohanian spoke out in late 2010 and early 2011 against Congress’ Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Senate’s Protect IP Act (PIPA), helping to lead the internet grassroots campaign that eventually overturned the two bills. Ohanian spoke to members of Congress, and helped launch the national anti-SOPA/PIPA protests that took place on January 18, 2012, which included a massive blackout of major websites such as Wikipedia, Google, and WordPress (which this blog participated in).
Alexis Ohanian is very “new school.”
In early March of this year, Lester, his wife Lola, and their son Dylan put together this sign, had Lester hold it in front of his face, took a photo of it, and shared it on social media.
The photo turned viral. Reddit helped it to become viral. It got the attention of Alexis Ohanian. It stayed in Ohanian’s mind. And now, he and Lester Chambers have joined up to make a statement.
The activist sides of Lester Chambers and Alexis Ohanian have combined to make a statement when it comes to the music industry, and now they’re leaving it in the hands of the music listening public and Lester’s legions of fans to help right some wrongs and give something back for the joy that Lester and The Chambers Brothers have given to the world for many years. But it goes beyond that. In Lester’s case, it goes toward helping other musicians like Lester who have found themselves struggling.
Just don’t think of it as charity. This is not a handout. It’s not a form of begging. In this age where people can download all kinds of entertainment for little or nothing, this is a way fans can purchase music that’s already been recorded and buy a stake in a future recording of Lester Chambers and his current band The Mud Stompers, a recording that’s also planned to feature the famous Tower of Power horns, Lenny Williams, Zakiya Hooker, Ant Dog, and the Marin City Choir.
On Tuesday of this week, Lester and Alexis launched a fundraising drive on the platform Kickstarter, hoping to raise at least $39,000 by January 9 to cover the cost of recording a brand new album of music performed by Lester and his friends.
Through Ohanian’s Breadpig site, part of the proceeds would go to Sweet Relief Musicians Fund — a non-profit charity that has helped Lester in many ways through his hard times. Lester is wanting to “pay it forward” through the organization that’s helped him to survive, and Ohanian is providing him with that outlet.
More information on the recordings and merchandise available to those who make a pledge, a video, and links to make a pledge can be found at the link below:
A link to the event’s Facebook page can be found at the link below:
A link to Lester Chambers and The Mud Stompers’ new and evolving website can be found at the link below:
Think of it as “old school” and “new school” combined, kind of like the new-found friendship between Lester and Alexis. It’s more like how it used to be when you’d go to a record store and plop down money for an album or other merchandise, only this way the “store” is right at your fingertips on the worldwide web, and this would make anyone making a pledge an “investor” in something that can give them endless entertainment.
As Alexis Ohanian says toward the end of this video, it gives people a chance to “do it all like you give a damn.”
- Reddit Cofounder Alexis Ohanian Taps Kickstarter And The Chambers Brothers To Prove Music Industry Wrong (fastcompany.com)
- Reddit Founder Alexis Ohanian on Entrepreneurship, Advocacy (fora.tv)
- Alexis Ohanian of Reddit: Entrepreneur, Advocate, Author (fora.tv)
- Alexis Ohanian: Give a Damn. Give Lots of Damns. (99u.com)
- How Reddit was created: ‘I wanted to make the world suck less’ (venturebeat.com)