Bill Lee, jazz musician and father of Spike Lee, dies aged 94

Bill Lee, Spike Lee

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

The musician died at his Brooklyn home yesterday (May 24), according to a publicist for Spike Lee, confirmed to The New York Times. No cause of death was revealed.

The composer and bassist scored the music for four of Spike’s earlier films including 1989’s Do The Right Thing and songs on 1991’s Jungle Fever.

Throughout his career, the session bassist performed with artists like Simon and Garfunkel and Harry Belafonte, also featuring on recorded albums with Odetta, Cat Stevens, Woody Guthrie and more.

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

Lee also composed his son’s films including She’s Gotta Have It (1986), School Daze (1988) and Mo’ Better Blues (1990).

Spike Lee has since posted a series of tributes to his Instagram page in memory of his father, including a picture of the vinyl album cover for the Do The Right Thing score.

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

Figures from the entertainment industry extended their condolences to Lee, including Kerry Washington, Terry Crews and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

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

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

Last month, Belafonte – the calypso singer best known for his signature song ‘Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)’, as well as his civil rights activism – died at the age of 96.

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