Bill Lee, an American musician became famous after composing music for the movie named She’s Gotta Have It. He composed music for songs like School Daze, Do the Right Thing, and Mo Better Blues from 1988 to 1990. Bill and the Strata-East jazz record label published the album The New York Bass Violin Choir in 1980. Besides, he was also known as the father of filmmaker, Spike Lee.
Early Life of Bill Lee
Bill Lee opened her eyes for the very first time on July 23, 1928. Lee hails from Snow Hill, Alabama, United States. If he was alive, he would be at the age of 95. Bill used to cut his birthday cake on the 23rd of July and his birth sign was Leo. William James Edwards Lee was his birth name. He was born as the son of Alberta Grace (mother) and Arnold Wadsworth Lee (father). His mother was a pianist and his father was also a musician.
He spent his early life with Consuela Lee, an American jazz pianist who died on December 26, 2009. Lee had American citizenship and he used to belong to the African-American ethnic community. Lee follows the Christianity religion. Bill graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia in 1951.
Bill Lee Married Twice
He was married to Susan Kaplan until his death. Susan was his second wife and is a white woman. Before that, he was married to his college sweetheart, Jacqueline Shelton. Shelton was a graduate of Spelman College.
In 1976, his first wife died due to cancer. After the death of his wife, Shelton he became all alone and moved on in his life with second marriage.
Bill Lee, Father of Six
Bill became a father of six children from his two marriages. He welcomed Joie Lee, Cinqué Lee, Spike Lee, David Lee, and Chris Lee with his first wife. His daughter Joie is an actress born on June 22, 1962. His son, Cinqué was born in July 1966 and works as an actor while his other son, Spike is a film director born on March 20, 1957.
David is a photographer born on February 16, 1961. Bill and his second wife welcomed Arnold Lee, a saxophone player. He was the grandfather of Satchel Lee, Jackson Lee, Christina Erika Lee, Steve Black, and Jerry Black.
Bill’s Relationship with His Son, Spike Lee
Bill and Spike’s relationship was not good as Spike didn’t talk to him for two years because of his second marriage. After his first wife, Jacquline died of cancer in 1976, he married a white woman, Susan. So, Spike couldn’t tolerate his father’s second marriage just a few days after his mother’s death. Spike was also against him because Susan was white and Spike also mentioned that his father moved on quickly before his mother got cold. He said:
“my mother wasn’t even cold in her grave.”
Bill Lee’s Net Worth
As of now, Bill had a net worth of $2 million. Bill earned this money from his career as an American musician. Lee used to earn $52,535 per year as his annual salary.
Bill Lee Died at 94
Lee left this universe on May 24, 2023, in Fort Green, Brooklyn. He was 94 years old at the time of his death. His son announced his death by sharing portraits of his father on his Instagram handle. Billboard has also shared the news of Lee’s death:
“Bill Lee, the jazz bassist who played with Bob Dylan and Duke Ellington before composing scores for his son Spike Lee, died at his Brooklyn home on Wednesday morning. No cause of death has been confirmed. He was 94.”
Musical Career of Bill Lee
- Lee had played bass for popular artists like Chris Anderson, Cat Stevens, Harry Belafonte, Chad Mitchell Trio, and Gordon Lightfoot.
- He played bass guitar for Dylan‘s classic song It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.
- He appeared as a musician for Gordon Lightfoot’s song Oh, Linda in 1964.
- Lee worked with artists like Aretha Franklin, Odetta, Simon and Garfunkel, Ian & Sylvia, Tom Rush, Burt Bacharach, Peter, Paul and Mary, and Arlo Guthrie.
- He collaborated with Tom Paxton, Carolyn Hester, John Lee Hooker, Josh White, Duke Ellington, Malvina Reynolds, Eric Bibb, The Clancy Brothers, and Bob Dylan.
- He appeared on the song Nola, She’s Gotta Have It, and Island as a Music director and performer in 1986.
- Lee directed Mo’ Better Blues, Universal in 1990.
Film Music & Discography
Some of his popular music for films is She’s Gotta Have It, Island, School Daze, Mo’ Better Blues, and Universal. His hit discography is John Handy’s: No Coast Jazz, Chris Anderson’s: My Romance, Ray Bryant’s: Con Alma, Dancing the Big Twist, Johnny Griffin’s: Change of Pace, and so on.
He had made music like Magic Fingers, A Spirit Speaks, The Brass Company: Colors, The Warm Voice of Billy C: Where have you been Billy Boy, Harold Mabern: A Few Miles from Memphis, Rakin’ and Scrapin, The New York Bass Violin Choir – The New York Bass Violin Choir, etc.
FAQs of Bill Lee
What happened to Bill Lee’s Son, Christopher?
His son, Christopher died due to traumatic brain injury. Chris was only 43 years old at the time of his death and died in 2013.
Why was Bill Lee arrested?
Police arrest Bill for carrying a small bag of heroin in a park near his home. They arrest him in Fort Greene on October 25, 1991. He mentioned that after being arrested his life got changed.
“I’m glad I was arrested, It woke me up.”
Is Bill Lee related to Spike Lee?
Yes, Bill and Spike are related. Spike is the son of Bill. Spike and Bill are both entertainers by profession.
How tall was Bill Lee?
Lee had a tall height of 5 feet 8 inches and weighs 70kg. Lee’s eyes were brown in color and had brown hair.