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For some, education happens in class. For others, in the residence hall. For Chuck Lambert ’73, lightning struck when he met blues musician Muddy Waters at a Lafayette concert in 1970.

“At that time, Waters and a lot of other guys did the college circuit and they traveled light,” says Lambert, explaining that “light” meant no entourage and no bodyguards to fend off fans. “They were the most approachable musicians you’d ever want to meet.”

Lambert seized his opportunity and ended up playing backup for veterans such as John Lee Hooker, J.B. Hutto, and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. After playing lots of weekends, he left Lafayette in 1972 to join a touring backup band as a guitarist. The Chuck Lambert Band, formed in 1997, now tours the East Coast, playing what the Asbury Park Press calls the “intensely driving, butt-kicking electric blues that makes you think of Otis Rush, Albert Collins and James Cotton – players from an earlier era who helped define the art.”

Music writer Carol Barbieri calls him the “quintessential” band leader.

“There’s no mistaking that fact, just by looking at him,” she says. “He has a hat, sunglasses and an ‘attitude’ that says, ‘I’m in charge here.’ But he also creates a relaxed atmosphere of friendliness and respect, which encourages the other members to strut their stuff, too.”

Lambert is a former member of The Tim McCabe Blues Gang and toured with Parliament Funkadelic. During that time, he studied guitar with late jazz guitar teacher Harry Leachey, Newark-based jazz guitarist Jimmy Ponder, Professor Ted Dunbar of Rutgers/Livingston College, and jazz guitarist Freddie Green.

“If it hadn’t been for Lafayette, I never would have had the opportunity to meet the people I did,” he says. “It was really a life-forming experience.”

Categorized in: Alumni Profiles