Prayers go out to Spike Lee and his family as his father, Bill Lee, passed away. Bill died at his Brooklyn Home on Wednesday (May 24). He was 94.

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Spike Lee confirmed the death of his father on Instagram, sharing images of his father, captured by his brother, David Charles Lee. “DEEDS NOT WORDS,” Spike captioned the photo collection.

Bill Lee was a talented jazz bassist, composer, and actor. His contributions to music, especially jazz, have established him as a notable figure.


Bill Lee was raised in Snow Hill, Alabama, where he was born, and he became enamored with music at a young age. He learned to play the bass by himself and quickly advanced to proficiency. Jazz, blues, and gospel were just a few genres that influenced his musical style. Over the years, Lee’s ability and originality on the bass allowed him to work with various well-known musicians.

Bill Lee rose to prominence as a jazz musician in the 1950s and 1960s by performing and recording with well-known musicians, including Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, and Art Blakey. He served on cello, double bass, and electric bass, demonstrating his adaptability and aptitude in various musical contexts.

Bill Lee has contributed to the civil rights struggle and his musical endeavors. He actively took part in racial equality and social justice marches and demonstrations. His son, Spike Lee, who would later include similar themes in his films, was moved by his dedication to these causes.

Bill Lee has artistic abilities outside of music. Including “She’s Gotta Have It” (1986) and “Do the Right Thing” (1989), he wrote the music for several of Spike Lee’s early movies. His music gave his son’s films a unique and heartfelt touch while also showcasing their similar aesthetic sensibility. He was born William James Edward Lee III on July 23, 1928.

About The Author

Senior Editor

Shawn Grant is a Chicago native and the Senior Editor of The Source Magazine. He can only be found on Instagram and Twitter at @shawnxgrant.

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