Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, Chancler began playing drums when he was thirteen years old. He would publicly reminisce about being asked to leave a classroom for continuously tapping on the desk, only to be later heard tapping on the poles in the hallway. He graduated from Locke High School. While in high school, he played with Willie Bobo and the Harold Johnson Sextet. He graduated from California State University, Dominguez Hills with a degree in music education. By then he had already performed with the Gerald Wilson Big Band, Herbie Hancock, and recorded with Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, and Bobby Hutcherson.
He recorded as a sideman in jazz, blues, and pop music, including on Billie Jean by Michael Jackson. In 1982, he received a Grammy nomination for Best Rhythm & Blues song, for co-writing Let It Whip made famous by the Dazz Band. He worked with George Benson, Stanley Clarke, The Crusaders, George Duke, Herbie Hancock, John Lee Hooker, Hubert Laws, Thelonious Monk, Jean-Luc Ponty, Lionel Richie, Kenny Rogers, Patrice Rushen, Santana, Frank Sinatra, Donna Summer, The Temptations, Tina Turner, and Weather Report.
In 2006, he became an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies at the University of Southern California and taught at the Stanford Jazz Workshop in California for three weeks every summer. He was a member of the Percussive Arts Society.