Archive for Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Lee McBee, renowned blues musician from Lawrence, has died

June 25, 2014, 9:55 a.m. Updated June 25, 2014, 4:46 p.m.

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Lee McBee

Lee McBee

Friends of local blues artist Lee McBee say his heart was as big as his talent.

McBee, 63, died on Tuesday.

On the Facebook page for Lee McBee and The Confessors, bassist Patrick Recob wrote that McBee’s wife Carla “has asked me to tell you that they went swimming this afternoon at their local pool that they frequent and Lee died suddenly. The doctors said he went fast and painless.”

Musicians and friends from around the world mourned his passing.

Lawrence attorney and blues musician Pat Nichols said when McBee played the harmonica or sang “he could be totally present in the moment of the music.”

Nichols said that McBee connected with audiences like few others. “He was such a deeply emotional person and thoroughly in touch with his emotions,” he said. Nichols said McBee was the best friend he ever had and that just about everything he does on stage he learned from McBee.

McBee’s former band mate Mike Morgan, of Dallas, said McBee “broke the mold.”

Morgan added, “He was a great, great, great singer, great harp man, great front man. He just mesmerized people. He had a special gift. There are only a handful of people who could sing with that kind of raw emotion.”

Playing as Mike Morgan and The Crawl, Morgan and McBee made six CDs during the 1990s and played hundreds of shows including several trips overseas.

Morgan said he and McBee had recently discussed working on another record.

McBee was born in Kansas City and started singing as a child and picked up the harmonica as a teen.

He moved to Lawrence in the 1960s and started making his way in the music world playing with a number of bands.

Paul Gray, a jazz musician from Lawrence and the former owner of the Jazzhaus, said McBee played there often in the 1970s and 1980s. “He had a lot of fun when he played, so that fun and joy carried over to the crowds,” Gray said.

McBee and Morgan joined forces in the 1980s and 90s. “He was just a big ball of energy,” said Morgan of McBee. “He captivated people and enjoyed what he did.”

In recent years, he played frequently with his band Lee McBee & The Confessors at B.B.’s Lawnside BBQ in Kansas City. McBee was inducted in the Kansas Music Hall of Fame, which describes him as “one of the best harmonica players around.”

Nichols said McBee was the kind of artist who was revered on the national blues scene and generous with other artists, while not being a household name. But Nichols said that didn’t bother McBee.

“He was just a guy with an open heart and he would let you in and you wanted to let him in,” said Nichols.

No arrangements have been announced. They will be announced on the Lee McBee and the Confessors Facebook page.

Comments

Bob Smith 1 year ago

Saw him at BB's Lawnside BBQ a couple of times, he always did a hell of a show.

Phil Minkin 1 year ago

A sad loss to Lawrence and lovers of the Blues.

1 year ago

Lee was my wife's cousin, Lee and his wife were just at our home a few weeks ago. He had been sick for awhile but was feeling better, so they decided to come for a visit here in Grove Oklahoma. We had a great visit with Lee and Carla as we hadn't seen them for sometime and it was great to reminisce about old times !! Miss you cuz, God bless and RIP.

Kim Murphree 1 year ago

So many of us knew and loved Lee. So many GREAT memories of music and laughter and people. He was a real entertainer, with style and whatever that unnamed characteristic is that makes you stop and pay attention...he had that charisma...and style...Lynch and McBee at the 7th Spirit...The Rhythm Kings....Mike Morgan and the Crawl....and of course the Confessors... not to mention all the places and times he sat in..and shared his talent and raucous sense of humor. We will miss you Lee, always.

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