(Photo: Vivien Killilea, WireImage)
On Saturday, Lester Chambers, the 73-year-old one-time frontman of The Chambers Brothers, was performing at The Russell City Hayward Blues Festival in Hayward, California. For his final song of his set, Chambers dedicated his version of Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready" to Martin. This was before the verdict was announced. Chambers was simply asking people to pray for the murdered unarmed teenager and his family and friends and did not make any statements about murder suspect George Zimmerman or the trial. Then suddenly, a woman in the crowd climbed on stage assaulted Chambers, he told us.
"She sprang up in my face and started calling me MF and said, 'I started this' and flew into me full force," Lester Chambers said. "She knocked me back at least six feet into the equipment racks. I've got this severe bruise on back and my rib cage."
"I'm still in shock and still in pain, but I'm alive. Thank God for that," he added. "It was one horrible, awful moment in my life that I never want to relive again." You can see the incident, which occurs at the end of the clip, in the video below.
The woman, who was arrested, was identified as 43-year-old Dinalynn Andrews Potter of Barstow, Calif., the Mercury News reports.
According to Lester's son, Dylan, it took eight men to restrain the woman. "Apparently she was charged with a misdemeanor and she was released after an hour," Dylan Chambers added. "She was out of jail before dad was out of the hospital."
The whole episode has the elder Chambers shaken. "One thing we know, she had evil in her mind," Lester Chambers said of his attacker. "Why would anyone attack an old 73-year-old man singing praises?"
Dylan Chambers has further questions for the woman. "Why come to a blues festival if you're angry and racist? That makes no sense," he said. "The majority of artists there are African-American."
According to Dylan Chambers, his father will no longer play festivals again following the incident. "He might play a well-regulated theater or some kind of venue of that nature, but he's not doing any kind of festival like this again," Dylan said. "He's traumatized by this. He hasn't been in a fight since he was 15 or 16-years-old in high school. He's the most peaceful person you can imagine."
The assault has left the elder Chambers struggling to breathe, since he was already suffering from asthma. He's also has bruised hips, knees and ribs and sore arms and wrists.
Still, he and his son know it could have been worse. "He keeps saying to me, 'What if she had a knife on her?' She could have stabbed him right in the gut and it would have been all over right then," he said.
To make matters worse, the elder Chambers' medical insurance doesn't kick back in until August, so he's relying on the Sweet Relief Fund to help him with his medical bills.
Chambers is best known for The Chambers Brothers' 1968 psychedelic rock hit "Time Has Come Today," which is acclaimed for its innovative production and its socially conscious lyrics. The song has been covered by acts including The Ramones, Joan Jett, American Idol finalist Bo Bice, and Steve Earle and Sheryl Crow.
The Chambers Brothers also recorded "People Get Ready," The Impressions' Mayfield-penned gospel classic that's long been associated with the civil rights movement. Before performing the song on Saturday, Chambers told the audience that if Mayfield was still alive, he'd alter the lyrics to say "there's a change a comin'" rather than "there's a train a comin'," he told us.
Chambers' wife Lola, who claims Lester was cheated out of royalties during from 1967 through 1994, testified on her husband's behalf at a California State Senate hearing on record label accounting practices in 2002. Late last year, Lester started a Kickstarter campaign to fund a new album titled Lester's Time Has Come.
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