Will Lee (bassist)

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Will Lee
Birth name William Franklin Lee IV
Born (1952-09-08) September 8, 1952 (age 61)
San Antonio, Texas, United States
Genres Jazz, rock
Occupations Bassist, composer
Instruments Bass guitar, voice, acoustic guitar
Years active 1973–present
Notable instruments
Sadowsky Will Lee jazz bass

William Franklin "Will" Lee IV (born September 8, 1952) is an American musician and bassist, best known for his work on the CBS television program Late Show with David Letterman as part of the CBS Orchestra.[1]

Born in San Antonio, Texas, Lee has recorded or toured with many artists. Lee was also present on the Mark & Clark Bands hit record Worn Down Piano. Lee performs with his Beatles tribute band, The Fab Faux,[2] which he co-founded in 1998.[3]

Career[edit]

Beginnings in music[edit]

Lee was greatly influenced to pursue music because of his parents. His father, William Franklin Lee III played piano, trumpet and the bass violin professionally. Lee's mother sang with big bands. Lee took up drums after seeing the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, and by the time he was 12 had formed his first band in Miami. The band members each earned $9 a night playing the popular surfing tunes characteristic of the 60s. With the great numbers of drummers in Miami, Lee shifted to bass, an instrument that offered more opportunities. Lee was part of a succession of bands including top 40 bands with names like "Chances R" "The Loving Kind", and "Green Cloud."

Lee had a formal musical education at the University of Miami. He studied French horn for a year and then switched to a bass major. After classes, he worked on bass fundamentals listening to not only the Beatles, but also Stevie Wonder, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Miller, The Rascals, Motown, Sly & the Family Stone, among others. He would put it all into practice six sets a night playing with various local bands, including a horn band called "Goldrush."

Professional music career[edit]

Lee then went to New York City. Trumpeter Randy Brecker called Lee out of class one day and invited him to audition for Dreams. In New York, Lee's career flourished, and he toured with many artists. Lee played in the New York "24th Street Band" which had great success in Japan, giving him a solo artist career that yielded him a top 5 single. Most recently, his solo CD entitled OH! reached the #1 position on the "Jazz Beyond" chart there.

The CBS Orchestra[edit]

In 1982, Lee became one of the original members of The World's Most Dangerous Band, the house band on NBC's Late Night with David Letterman. He holds the distinction of playing with Paul Shaffer, on both Late Night and the Late Show, longer than any other member of the CBS Orchestra.[4] Before the Late Show begins taping, he often tosses out guitar picks to the audience as souvenirs.

Awards[edit]

In 2014, he was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum.[5]

Basses[edit]

Lee currently uses the Sadowsky Will Lee model, a 4 string jazz bass with a narrower nut width of 1.45" [37mm] instead of the usual 1.5" [38mm], 22 frets and a Hipshot D-tuner. The bass was built for him by Roger Sadowsky and has now become a production model within the line of Sadowsky basses.[6]

Discography[edit]

  • OH! (1993)
  • Birdhouse (2006)[7]
  • Love, Gratitude and Other Distractions (2013)[8]

As sideman[edit]

With Patti Austin

With George Benson

With Dan Brenner

  • Little Dark Angel (2011)

With Gary Burton

With Art Farmer

With Yusef Lateef

With Spyro Gyra

With Lalo Schifrin

With Don Sebesky

With Mike Stern

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bonacich, Drago. "Biography: Will Lee". Allmusic. Retrieved 24 May 2010. 
  2. ^ Kahn, Ashley (2008-01-24). "Rebuilding The Beatles, Note by Note". NPR. Retrieved 2014-06-15. 
  3. ^ Corrigan, John (2013-10-08). "Fab Faux don't look like the Beatles, but they do sound like them". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-06-15. 
  4. ^ Orr, John (2010-02-18). "Will Lee: Happy just to play for you". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 2014-06-15. 
  5. ^ Paulson, Dave (2014-01-28). "Musicians Hall of Fame welcomes new inductees with concert, ceremony". The Tennessean. Retrieved 2014-06-15. 
  6. ^ "Sadowsky Guitars | Will Lee Model". Sadowsky.com. Retrieved 2013-06-28. 
  7. ^ Fordham, John (2006-07-27). "Will Lee, Bird House". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-06-15. 
  8. ^ Fricke, David (2013-11-01). "Will Lee 'Love, Gratitude and Other Distractions' Review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2014-06-15. 

External links[edit]