Bill Lee, Father of Spike Lee and Composer of 'Do the Right Thing,' Dead at 94
Bill Lee composed music for several of son Spike Lee's movies before a personal feud stopped them from collaborating
Spike Lee's father Bill Lee, the musician who composed scores for the director's films before a feud ended their working relationship, has died.
Bill died on Wednesday morning in Brooklyn at 94, the Oscar winner confirmed on Instagram, sharing a link to his New York Times obituary. The jazz bassist served as composer on several of Spike's movies, including She's Gotta Have It (1986) and Do the Right Thing (1989).
According to the NY Times, Bill is also survived by his wife, his kids David, Cinque, Arnold and Joie, and two grandchildren. His first wife, Jacquelyn (Spike's mom) died in 1976, and their other son Christopher died in 2013.
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The musician and Spike had a falling out in the 1990s that stopped their creative collaborations. Spike told Esquire back in 1992 that they "can't work together anymore," and spoke about not getting along with Bill's second wife.
According to a 1994 Los Angeles Times story, Bill was arrested for heroin possession in 1991 and later asked Spike for a loan in 1992 but the director refused. Bill told the outlet at the time, "I don’t have anything to do with Spike now. We haven't talked for two years."
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Bill told the newspaper at the time, "I’m glad I was arrested. It woke me up. ... Dope was not part of my life until I was 40 years old." He added, "People remember you by the work that you do."
Spike told the LA Times in that same cover story that his movie Crooklyn was "very, very, very loosely based" on his childhood with his father. His siblings Cinque and Joie helped write that film, which starred Alfre Woodard and Delroy Lindo.
Spike and Bill reunited at a 20th anniversary screening of Do the Right Thing at New York City's Directors Guild of America Theater in June 2009, posing together on the red carpet. They again joined each other for a 25th anniversary event for the movie held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Harvey Theater in 2014.
Per the NY Times, Bill can be heard performing on over 250 record albums and worked with stars like Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Duke Ellington, Simon and Garfunkel, and Harry Belafonte, to name a few.
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