Bill Lee Dies: Jazz Bassist and Spike Lee’s Father Was 94 Years Old


Bill Leejazz bassist who played with Bob Dylan and Duke Ellington before composing for his son spike leedied Wednesday morning at his home in Brooklyn. No cause of death has been confirmed. He was 94 years old.

The news was confirmed from Spike Lee’s account. official Instagram here he shared a series of portraits of his late father taken by David Charles Lee. He also shared The New York Times obituary and the soundtrack of the 1989 movie “Do The Right Thing” composed by Bill Lee.

The late Lee also wrote the music for his son’s first three feature films: “She’s Gotta Have It” (1986), “School Daze” (1988) and “Mo’ Better Blues” (1990). He also composed the music for an early Spike Lee short film, “Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads,” the first student film that premiered at Lincoln Center’s New Directors/New Films Festival in 1983.

Before his son’s career took off, Bill Lee was a highly respected jazz bassist in Atlanta and Chicago, leading the Lee family to become synonymous with some of Hollywood’s most beloved movies.

He moved to New York in 1959 and was called upon to play with Bob Dylan as a session musician (bass notes appear on Dylan’s song “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”), Aretha Franklin, Simon and Garfunkel, and Harry Belafonte. . As a composer, he worked with Max Roach on several of the drummer’s recordings.

Bill Lee and his son distanced themselves for a while due to financial and family issues in the mid-1990s and ended their film and music collaborations. In addition to Spike Lee, Bill Lee has a wife, three sons and daughters, a brother and two grandchildren.

“I got everything I know about jazz from my father,” Spike Lee told The New York Times in 1990. ”

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