Sara Lee (musician)

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Sara Lee
Lee at the O+ Festival in Woodstock, NY, in 2010
Lee at the O+ Festival in Woodstock, NY, in 2010
Background information
GenresAlternative rock, art rock, pop rock
Occupation(s)Musician, vocalist, songwriter
Instrument(s)Vocals, bass, keyboards
Years active1975–present

Sara Lee is an English-American bassist and singer-songwriter, who came to prominence replacing Dave Allen on bass guitar in post-punk band Gang of Four, which she was a member of from 1982 to 1984. She was also a member of Robert Fripp's short-lived band The League of Gentlemen and is also notable for work with B-52s, Ani DiFranco and Indigo Girls. As of October 2021, Lee rejoined Gang of Four with founding members Hugo Burnham and Jon King as well as David Pajo, to tour in 2022.[1][2]


Lee confirmed in an interview on that Sara Lee is her birth name. Born in the West Midlands of England, Lee's entire family was musical. Both parents were music teachers (her father was latterly a bass song man in the choir of York Minster), her sister a cellist, and her brother a trombone player. Music formed an important part of her childhood. She played tympani and double bass in school and local orchestras as a teenager, until the day she discovered the electric bass guitar.[3]

After playing with a couple of local bands, she moved to London and worked as a secretary at Polydor Records. Here she was discovered by King Crimson leader Robert Fripp, who was encouraged to stay at a show to see "a girl who works in the office."[4] Fripp invited her to join his band, The League of Gentlemen.

Lee went on to work with Robyn Hitchcock on his album Groovy Decay[5] and recorded two albums with famed political, post punk band Gang of Four in England. Later she moved to the United States. Lee became a sought-after session, concert and recording artist, playing with the Thompson Twins before she crossed paths with The B-52's during the recording of their Cosmic Thing album, and can be seen in the "Love Shack" and the "Roam" videos. Following a stint on the Cosmic tour, Sara formed The Raging Hormones with B-52 session drummer Charley Drayton. She then started a seven-year run with the Indigo Girls, contributing "sterling performances".[6] In 1996 and 1997 she accompanied singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco on tours of Europe and North America, as documented on the double-live album Living in Clip.

Lee has played with many other artists, including Joan Osborne, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Fiona Apple, and is a close friend of former David Bowie bassist Gail Ann Dorsey.[7]

Lee re-joined the B-52's as a touring member in 1999.

On 12 September 2000, she released her debut solo album Make It Beautiful on Difranco's Righteous Babe records.[8] Lee recorded instrumental tracks, which were sent to musicians with whom she had previously worked to provide lyrics, including Ani DiFranco, Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls, Pal Shazar, Barbara Gogan of The Passions and Kristen Hall.[9]

She replaced Rachel Haden for the final dates of Todd Rundgren's 2009 Arena tour.

Lee was also a judge for the fifth annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers.[10]


  1. ^ Pearis, Bill (17 October 2021). "Gang of Four teasing something, share picture ft Jon King, Hugo Burnham, Sara Lee, & David Pajo". Brooklyn Vegan. Retrieved 18 October 2021.
  2. ^ Owen, Matt (18 October 2021). "Three classic-era Gang Of Four members to reunite for 2022 North American tour". Guitar World. Retrieved 18 October 2021.
  3. ^ Kort, Michele (21 November 2000). "Free to be Sara Lee". The Advocate. Retrieved 14 March 2010.
  4. ^ "Record company bio". Righteous Babe records. Archived from the original on 8 July 2009. Retrieved 17 November 2009.
  5. ^ Gimarc, George (1997). Post punk diary, 1980–1982. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. p. 257. ISBN 978-0-312-16968-8. Sara Lee bass.
  6. ^ photographs by Ben Browton (2003). Peter Buckley (ed.). The Rough guide to rock: the definitive guide to more than 1200 artists and bands (3rd ed.). London: Rough Guides. ISBN 978-1-84353-105-0. Retrieved 16 August 2011. ...sterling guest performance by Sara Lee
  7. ^ Dorsey, Gail Ann. "I'm From Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone.
  8. ^ Bassist Sara Lee Cooks Up Solo Debut. Billboard. 23 September 2000. Retrieved 17 November 2009.
  9. ^ jhtml "Sara Lee Collabs With Ani DiFranco on Solo LP". Retrieved 17 November 2009. {{cite web}}: Check |url= value (help)
  10. ^ "Past Judges". Independent Music Awards. Archived from the original on 13 July 2011. Retrieved 19 February 2012.

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