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

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

The deceased musician was figured out for playing alongside Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, and many more music legends.

The New York Times reported Lee’s death on Wednesday morning May 24th, 2023 via the School Daze filmmaker. The bassist reportedly passed away in his Brooklyn home and the cause of his demise is currently unknown.

The daddy-son duo worked together 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 migrated 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 altered, the deceased 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.


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