Spike Lee Attends the DGA Awards in Beverly Hills

Spike Lee Recalls Late Dad Bill's Accomplishments In Touching Tribute

Home / Photos / Spike Lee Recalls Late Dad Bill's Accomplishments In Touching Tribute

By Afouda Bamidele on May 28, 2023 at 12:00 AM EDT

Spike Lee's father, Bill Lee, the jazz bassist who previously composed musical scores for the director's films, has passed away.

His death was confirmed by his son, who has also made a name for himself as an actor, writer, producer, and director. Bill, who died on the morning of Wednesday in Brooklyn at 94, served as composer on more than a handful of Spike's movies, including the 1986 film, "She's Gotta Have It."

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Spike Lee Honored His Father's Memory With Multiple Social Media Posts Highlighting His Achievements

Although Bill and Spike's working relationship ended in the 1990s following their fallout, the latter never doubted his father's talents at composing music. The proof came when Spike confirmed the older Lee's passing on Instagram, with a greyscale image of Bill sitting beside a double bass.

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Spike Lee Recalls Late Dad Bill's Accomplishments In Touching Tribute
Instagram | Spike Lee
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Taking to the caption, he wrote, "Bill Lee, Bassist And Composer Of Son Spike Lee's Films, Dies At 94," and asked his fans to click on his Instastory to see the details of his obituary.

Barely 24 hours after he made the announcement, his fans began showing their support in the comments. This netizen credited Bill for being the reason they connected with his son in "the first place," and a second commented, "An amazing score by his father accompanied some of the most memorable scenes in Spike's movies. Thanks for the memories."

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"Sending you and your family so much love right now as you enter this new space of life," a third penned, as a fourth called Bill "a total genius." A fifth Instagram user added, "He was a wonderful musician, and the neighborhood was lucky to have him as part of the community."

Amid the avalanche of tributes dedicated to his dad, Spike highlighted the vinyl album cover for the musical scores the late musician composed for the 1989 film, "Do the Right Thing."

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While that post was gaining traction, he uploaded a third update, highlighting Bill, the late Bob Dylan, and Tina Turner, whose death was also confirmed on Wednesday, May 24. Through the caption, the two-time Peabody award-winning actor expressed:

"This Morning May 24th My Father Made His Transition. Today Is Also The Birthdate Of BOB DYLAN. Today Is Also The Birthdate Of Jackson Lewis Lee Who Is The Son Of Tonya Lewis Lee And Me, Brother Of Satchel Lee, And The Grandson Of Daddy.Also Must Give Love To Our Sista TINA TURNER Who Left Us Today On This May 24th, 2023. WHEW LAWD. What A Day. Da Lee Family Appreciations [sic] All Da ??? Your Heartfelt Condolences."

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Although nobody was focused on the drama that ended Bill and Spike's professional relationship, I Love Old School Music reported in 2015 that their lousy blood began after the former partnered up with another woman after his first wife and son's mother, Jacquelyn, died from cancer in the 1970s. 

It also did not help that the woman, whom Bill quickly walked down the aisle with, was white. Things became increasingly worse in 1991 when Bill was arrested for heroin possession, and later in 1992, Spike refused to help the LAFCA Awards recipient sort out some of his bills.

Spike Lee Recalls Late Dad Bill's Accomplishments In Touching Tribute
Instagram | Spike Lee
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The last incident was the final straw, and the duo cut all ties with each other for more than two years. They would reunite in June 2009 during a 20th-anniversary screening of "Do the Right Thing" at New York City's Directors Guild of America Theater.

The Black Reel Awards Winner Called Out The Oscars For Being Racially Biased

Before his father's death rocked his world, Spike had been vocal about this year's Oscars nominations, especially the Best Actress category that saw Andrea Riseborough edging over Danielle Deadwyler and Viola Davis.

Since the duo had wowed audiences with their portrayals in the films "The Woman King" [Davis] and "Till" [Deadwyler], the writer believed they should have earned nominations over Riseborough's "To Leslie."

Addressing the controversial nomination during an interview, the "Summer of Sam" producer stated, "It gets tricky when you get these awards. And the Academy has a history with….The Academy has a history; let's leave it at that."

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He also claimed that the "whole #OscarsSoWhite hashtag" had made an impact and caused the Academy to strive towards making changes by bringing diversity to the voting body. Spike has been at the forefront of the campaign against the Oscars, prioritizing white stars over their black peers for years, and even led a boycott against them in 2016.

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