Bill Lee, a jazz bassist who recorded with Duke Ellington, Aretha Franklin and Bob Dylan and was the father of filmmaker Spike Lee, died Wednesday. He was 94.
Bill Lee died at his home in Brooklyn, New York, The New York Times reported. No cause of death has been confirmed. Spike Lee confirmed his father’s death in an Instagram post.
The elder Lee, who also composed scores for his son, played double bass on recordings for Harry Belafonte, Judy Collins, Odetta, Ellington and many more, according to Rolling Stone.
Bill Lee moved to New York in 1959 and became a session musician, Variety reported.
Bill Lee also appeared on Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now, Blue,” and on Franklin’s 1961 debut, “Aretha,” according to Rolling Stone. He also can be heard on the debut album of Simon and Garfunkel, “Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.”
Bill Lee, a jazz bassist and composer who scored the early films of his son Spike Lee, wrote folk-jazz operas, led an acclaimed ensemble of bassists and was a prolific sideman for Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin and others, has died at 94. https://t.co/XkdCwkt63I— New York Times Arts (@nytimesarts) May 24, 2023
“Everything I know about jazz I got from my father,” Spike Lee told the Times in 1990. “I saw his integrity, how he was not going to play just any kind of music, no matter how much money he could make.”
Bill Lee wrote the soundtracks for Spike Lee’s first four feature films: “She’s Gotta Have It” (1986), “School Daze” (1988), “Do the Right Thing” (1989) and “Mo’ Better Blues” (1990), according to the Times. He had small parts in all but “Do the Right Thing,” the newspaper reported.
©2023 Cox Media Group