Bill Lee, Musician And Father Of Spike Lee, Dead At 94

Bill Lee, Spike Lee’s father, has died at the age of 94.

The late musician was known for playing alongside Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, and many more music legends.

The New York Times reported Lee’s passing on Wednesday morning (May 24) via the School Daze filmmaker. The bassist reportedly died in his Brooklyn home and the cause of his death is currently unknown.

The father-son duo collaborated on Spike’s first four films in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The jazz musician scored She’s Gotta Have It, School Daze, Do The Right Thing, and Mo’ Better Blues. They went on to be at odds over finances and internal family issues, thus ending their working relationship.

Bill Lee moved to New York City in 1959 after making a career playing bass in Atlanta and Chicago. Upon entering the Big Apple, he actively performed in Greenwich Village and even dabbled in poetry. He also participated in jam sessions with Duke Ellington, Simon and Garfunkel, Harry Belafonte, Judy Collins, and Peter, Paul, and Mary. Bill Lee also served as a composer with the drummer Max Roach for many of his 1950s records.

In the 1960s, Lee played bass on Bob Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.” As music changed, the late musician stood firm on not transitioning to electric models of the bass. He even told a reporter for The Boston Globe, “I could never live with myself” if he ever switched from an acoustic bass in 1992.

VIBE sends its sincerest condolences to Bill Lee’s family, friends, and loved ones.

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