Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, the longtime drummer for the Roots, has become legendary for his encyclopedic knowledge of black music, but he's always been clear about his greatest inspiration: his father Lee Andrews, a famous Philly doo-wop singer who passed away this week at the age of 79. Andrews rose to local stardom as the lead member of Lee Andrews & The Hearts in 1953, and Questlove touched on that history and much more in a touching tribute he posted on Instagram:
The caption reads:
The Greatest Teacher in my life, my dad Lee Andrews June 2nd 1936-March 16 2016. I love you. For every backstage experience. For every drum lesson. For giving me your tireless work ethic. For our father & son record binging expeditions. For our arguments over the summer I discovered #ItTakesANationOfMillions. For the look on your face when I told you "imma give this rap thing a try" (I waited til our 2nd album to have this convo btw) For the look on your face 5 years later when I told you "you don't have to work no more. For the look on your face when a year later I was like "Seriously dad, you don't have to work anymore!" For bringing my mom & my sister into my life. For the years we fell out. For the years we put it back together. But really, for the last 2 conversations we had. I understand why you were so hard on me praying I didn't succumb to a fate not meant for a teenager in west philly in the mid 80s. I didn't understand it at the time. But I appreciate it now. I hope Donn & I do you proud. #LeeAndrewsAndTheHearts
In his 2013 book, Mo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove, the longtime drummer wrote about how his father's influence helped him land a spot at the prestigious Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, where he'd later meet fellow Roots member Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter:
M parents didn't resist the idea of CAPA, but it quickly became apparent that I had decided too late ... auditions had been held all the way back in January, and my application was rejected almost as soon as I submitted it. That's when my father stepped in and played the Lee Andrews card. It wasn't the kind of thing he did very often, but when he did, it worked like a charm. I didn't even have to audition.
Rolling Stone points out that Andrews' last recorded project was a 1973 album with a group called Congress Alley. Here's a sampling of his music below:
He died on Wednesday. Details of his death have not been released.