Bill Lee Musician – All To Know About Spike Lee’s Dead Father

The father of legendary film director Spike Lee, Bill Lee musician, has sadly passed away at the age of 94 in his home in Brooklyn, New York.

Bill Lee died at the age of 94 at his home in Brooklyn, New York.

Spike Lee confirmed the death of his father in a post on Instagram Wednesday, May 24th 2023.

Sharing photos of his father, he wrote: “DEEDS NOT WORDS Portraits By David Charles Lee,”

May Spike Lee’s father, Bill Lee musician rest in peace.

Continue reading to learn all there is to know about Bill Lee musician.

Bill Lee Musician – Spike Lee Father Dead

spike lee father bill lee musician

The father of legendary American director Spike Lee, Bill Lee, has passed away.

Bill Lee was a musician who worked on several films with his son by composing original music.

Movies Spike Lee worked on with his father include She’s Gotta Have It (1986), School Daze (1988), Do the Right Thing (1989) and Mo’ Better Blues (1990) – although they later had a falling out.

Bill Lee died on the morning of Wednesday, May 24th 2023. He was 94 years old.

According to the New York Times, Spke Lee father Bill Lee was “a well-regarded jazz musician who accompanied such artists as Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel and Harry Belafonte,”

“Lee was a session bassist who has played on albums by Odetta, Woody Guthrie, Cat Stevens, Gordon Lightfoot, John Lee Hooker and Peter, Paul and Mary, among many others. He can be heard on Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” and Lightfoot’s “Oh, Linda.” He played on Aretha Franklin’s Columbia album debut in 1960, “Aretha.” NYT adds.

He had three other children aside Spike Lee – David, Cinque, Arnold and Joie.

With his first wife, Jackie, he had four children, most famous of them being film director Spike Lee (born 1957).

The rest of Spike Lee siblings are still photographer David Lee (born 1961), actress Joie Lee (born 1962), and filmmaker Cinqué Lee (born 1966).

Bill Lee and his second wife, Susan Kaplan had one son, Arnold Lee, who plays alto saxophone.

According to PEOPLE!, Spike Lee and his father had a falling out in the 90s that ended their working relationship. It is believed to be related to Spike not getting along with Bill’s second wife, Susan Kaplan.

Bill was arrested for heroin possession in 1991 and later asked Spike for a loan in 1992 but the director refused. Bill told the LA Times at the time, “I don’t have anything to do with Spike now. We haven’t talked for two years,”

Bill Lee Musician

Below is the New York Times obituary for Bill Lee Musician, Spike Lee father.

Bill Lee musician was into an Alabama family of musicians and educators who instilled a passion for music in him and his siblings, Bill Lee learned drums, piano and flute early on. He attended segregated small-town public schools and studied music at historically Black Morehouse College in Atlanta.

Inspired in his early 20s by listening to the great jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker,  Lee mastered the double bass, the largest and lowest-pitched stringed instrument, and performed with small jazz groups in Atlanta and Chicago before migrating to New York City in 1959.

Over the next decade, Mr. Lee, who favored a battered straw hat and often recited his own poetry between numbers, performed often in piano-bass duos and piano-bass-drums trios in smoky clubs that served soul food with jazz, many on the western edge of Greenwich Village, squeezed among meatpacking houses and trucking depots on Manhattan’s Hudson River shoreline.

He recorded extensively on Strata-East Records, a musician-owned label, and founded and directed the New York Bass Violin Choir, a troupe of seven basses, sometimes accompanied by piano or saxophone. Critics lauded the ensemble for weaving an agile harmony of pastel and harsh moods in performing Mr. Lee’s folk operas at Town Hall, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center and the Newport Jazz Festival.

His numerous operas, including “One Mile East,” “The Depot” and “Baby Sweets,” were based on people and events from his early life in the South. They sometimes drew on the singing talents of Mr. Lee and his two sisters, Consuela Lee Moorehead, a jazz pianist and music teacher at Hampton University in Virginia, and Grace Lee Mims, a librarian, whose voices lent grandiloquent color to the tales.

“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.”

William James Edwards Bill Lee was born in Snow Hill on July 23, 1928, to Arnold Lee, a cornet player and band director at Florida A&M University, and Alberta Grace (Edwards) Lee, a classical concert pianist and teacher. In addition to his sisters Consuela and Grace, he had four other siblings, Clifton, Arnold Jr., Leonard and Clarence.

Spike Lee Mother

spike lee mother & father

Spike Lee’s mother was Jacqueline (Jackie) Shelton, a 1954 Spelman College graduate.

She was a college sweetheart of Spike Lee’s father Bill, and they got married.

They had four children; film director Spike Lee (born 1957), still photographer David Lee (born 1961), actress Joie Lee (born 1962), and filmmaker Cinqué Lee (born 1966).

Spike Lee’s mother died in 1976.

Susan Kaplan

Susan Kaplan is the second wife of Bill Lee, the father of Spike Lee.

Spike Lee had a falling out with his father due to his marriage to Susan Kaplan. The details of why are not public.

Kaplan has been quoted by the Los Angeles Times saying; “I am not a Spike Lee fan,”

Susan Kaplan Lee is on Instagram @kaplansusanlee

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