Bill Lee, Jazz Musician and Spike Lee’s Father, Has Died at The Age of 94.


Bill Lee, a jazz musician who played with Bob Dylan and Aretha Franklin and the father of Spike Lee, has died at the age of 94.

The musician died at his home in Brooklyn yesterday (May 24), according to publicist Spike Lee, confirmed by The New York Times. The cause of death has not been disclosed.

The composer and bassist wrote music for four of Spike’s early films, including “Do It Right” from 1989 and songs for “Jungle Fever” from 1991.

Throughout his career, the session bassist has performed with artists such as Simon and Garfunkel and Harry Belafonte, as well as participated in recorded albums with Odette, Cat Stevens, Woody Guthrie and others.

Some of his most notable musical performances include Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”, in which he played guitar and harmonica, and Franklin’s 1961 debut “Aretha”.

Lee has also composed music for his son’s films, including “She Must Have It” (1986), “School Amazement” (1988) and “The Best Blues” (1990).

Spike Lee has since posted a series of tributes to his father on his Instagram page, including a photo of the vinyl album cover for Do The Right Thing music.

“Beautiful music lives forever,” he wrote in another post.

Entertainment industry figures including Kerry Washington, Terry Crews and Lin-Manuel Miranda expressed their condolences to Lee.

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

“I saw his integrity, that he wasn’t going to play any music, no matter how much money he could make.”

Lee passed away on the same day as Tina Turner, who died peacefully at the age of 83 after a long illness at her home in Kusnacht near Zurich, Switzerland.”

Last month, Belafonte, a calypso singer best known for his signature song “Day—O (The Banana Boat Song)” as well as his activism in the field of civil rights, died at the age of 96.


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