Services for Lee T. McBee, 63, Lawrence, will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home, visitation to follow. Mr. McBee died unexpectedly on June 24.
He was born March 23, 1951 in Kansas City, Missouri, the son of Taylor R. McBee and Margaret Reece McBee. He spent his early years in Lincoln and Warsaw Missouri before moving to Kansas. Lee married Carla Hamilton Nakata on May 3, 1975 in Leavenworth, Kansas. She survives of the home.
Other survivors include a daughter, Angela Nakata, a son, Gregory Nakata, a grandson, Gregory Fowler and a great grandson, Ethan Fowler. He is also survived by his sisters and brothers in law Leslie Hamilton, Michael and Donna Hamilton and Mary Janine Hamilton, as well as nieces Jessica Hamilton and Rachel Lear. He is also survived by several cousins and a foster sister.
He is preceded in death by his mother and father, a sister, Roberta Mauck, a brother Charles McBee,, his father in law Carl Hamilton, his mother in law Mary E. Hamilton, and a granddaughter, Alicia LeeAnn Fowler.
Lee McBee was an acclaimed musician, singer and songwriter who taught himself to play harmonica and drums while still a teenager. He played in bands around Kansas and Missouri in the 70’s and 80’s. In 1988 he joined the Dallas Texas based “Mike Morgan and the Crawl”. McBee toured with “The Crawl” as a songwriter, lead singer, harmonica player and front man throughout the USA and Europe until 1995. During this time the band released 4 albums with Black Top Records. These include “Raw and Ready”, “Mighty Fine Dancin’”, “Full Moon Over Dallas”, and “Ain’t Worried No More”. In 1995 McBee left “The Crawl” to pursue other musical interests. That year, as “Lee McBee and the Passions” he released “44 Blues” on the Red Hot Records label. Subsequently released in Europe by CRS Records, “44” climbed the German blues charts to #1.
McBee again joined briefly with “The Crawl” in 1998 and the band subsequently released “The Road” in 1998 and “I Like the Way You Work It” in 1999.
In 2000 McBee left “The Crawl” and began work with Pacific Blues Records on his newest release “Soul Deep”.
McBee listed as his influences, “Little Walter” Jacobs, George “Harmonica” Smith, Jimmy Reed, and “Slim” Harpo.
I’ve Got a Good Thing / Take Me Back / Just the Kind of Man I Am / Kiss Be Baby / I Don’t Want You Hangin Round / Full Moon Over Dallas / She’s Takin Me to Heaven / Born to Boogie / I Like the Way You Work It / I Wanna Know / See Me Runnin / Everybody Loves My Baby / 12 Hours From You / Woman Down in Arkansas / Gonna Find My Baby / I Don’t Understand / Your Turn to Cry
(McBee and Morgan)
I’m Worried / You Ain’t Like You Used to Be / Big D Shuffle / Cause I Love You Baby / My Trouble / Jus’ A Little Bit of Your Love / I’m Blue / I Let Her Slip Right Through My Hands / Cold Word / One of a Kind / The Hammer / Face Down in the Dirt
Losin’ Ground (McBee, Kazanoff and Morgan) / Somebody Help Me (McBee, Morgan, R. Innis, W. Campbell) / It’s Gonna B e Alright (lyrics McBee, Music McBee, Angerer, Recob
“Lee McBee, a truly a great musician” B.B. King
“Soul Deep turned out to be one of the best blues releases in a long, long time. McBee of course, is a master at blending blues grit with the beauty of soul. McBee is one of a handful of blues artists who’ve perfected a style that is modern enough to pack the dance floor and yet close enough to the roots to still touch the soul.” Dave Ranney, Blues Access
“What ya have in Soul Deep is simply McBee’s best outing to date, which is saying something. He righteously gets the vocal across in completely his own unique, natural, Soul Deep style.” John “Juke” Logan, Mocombo recording artist; blues radio host, RythmRadio.com
“A truly exceptional vocalist, Lee McBee also happens to be a dynamite harmonica player. One of my all time favorite blues singers….deeply soulful and always “For Real”. His phrasing is impeccable… a master of dynamics and subtle nuance… really puts across the story in his songs. With his song writing talent and his engaging on stage enthusiasm, it is apparent why he is such an asset to the blues in general…Anson Funderburgh says it best when he describes Lee musically as “a natural”.” Hammond Scott, Black Top Records
“Vocalist/harmonica player, Lee McBee taking honors for “Raw and Ready” Billboard Magizine
Musicians and fans may wish to attend a Lee McBee memorial “invitational jam” Sunday 6:00pm to 9:00pm at BB’s Lawnside BBQ, 1205 E. 85th, Kansas City, MO 64131.
The family suggests memorials to the American Heart Association in care of the funeral home 601 Indiana Street, Lawrence Kansas.
Messages & Condolences
Dear Carla, I’m so sorry to hear of Lee’s sudden passing. We have been in Alaska so this note is very late. What a shock this is. If you have time for lunch, send me an email and we can find a time to visit. Such a loss.
I’ve been trying to find words for a week now and failing miserably. It’s been decades since I was part of your, Lee’s and Janine’s inner circle but I remember it like it was yesterday. I can’t stop thinking about Janine and I calling him “WeevyBeevy” and I can’t recall why, but I thought he was going to kill us both! Good times in Gas Leak Village. Lee was one of those people who you could not see for a long time and just pick right up with, as if no time had passed. That’s my definition of good people. I hope you are all finding comfort in your memories, as I am.
Peace & comfort to you Carla & family. I am still in disbelief. The service was amazing. I am proud he called me sister. I’ve known him 50+ yrs. As his sister, Bobbe & I were best friends. I am so thankful to have seen him perform & talk to him recently. Now he joins his precious mother, Margaret and sister, Bobbe.
With love, Annie
And I knew if I had my chance,
I could make those people dance,
And, maybe they’d be happy for a while.
Lee made us happy.
My heart goes out to you with the loss of your husband.
Blessings to you and your family
Although I did not make the service, my thoughts were on Lee today. I have a memory of Lee and my mother having a conversation, after meeting….they talked for probably an hour. I gave my mom a signed cassette from Lee, I believe that was one of her most valued possessions,I will never forget him for that memory alone.
Dear, dear Carla,
Joe and I send love and strength to you and your family at this sad time. We are better people for having known Lee, with all his wisdom and pure talent. I am so thankful that he trusted Red Hot Records to make his album. He was a pleasure to work with and making “44” with him is one of the highlights of my life. I’ll miss you, Mac-Bee!
Until that time Lee…..until that time
Carla, family, and all who knew and loved Lee, be united in love and his memory. He brought so many people joy with his music and his warm, wonderful personality. When he played at Matt Moore’s life celebration, I was standing just off stage, as I used to do at shows decades ago. He smiled and winked at me. Thank you Lee, for all the good times and friendship. I’ll catch up with you on the other side.
Carla and family,
I am so sorry for your loss. So many of us have such great “Lee McBee” stories because that’s the kind of spirit he brought into our lives…he made an impact and created fond memories for thousands of us. What a great man and what a great loss. May God bless you and keep you in the arms of the angels. We will always love and miss Lee McBee.
From Skip Brading: I have had the pleasure of knowing Lee my entire life: from being a member of his first band in Valley Falls, KS, to reuniting on Beale Street in Memphis, to playing at our Bradingfest in Auburn, KS. Lee will be missed by many for his outstanding blues music and just being Lee McBee. Love ya, Brother, RIP.
You are truly “Soul Deep”
I hung out and jammed with Lee in the early 70s during his time in Topeka. He was a great guy. The rest of us fizzled out, but Lee kept getting better and better. I got to live vicariously by following his career. I was always flattered he remembered me and seemed happy to see me when I’d go to hear him play, which wasn’t often enough. Lee had a genuinely open, warm personality, distinctive singing voice, and was obviously a killer harp player. I’ll really miss him. My condolences to his family, he was the best.
I met Lee at Theodore’s in Topeka in 1980. He and Bill Lynch were taking a break. I asked Lee about his harmonica and he handed it to me to play! That was Lee. Over the years he helped me with instruments and equipment and shared his secrets of playing blues harp. He was a master, a mentor and a
dear friend. I saw Lee and Carla last year at Uncle Bo’s and they were very sweet to me.
Lee, if I’d known it was the last time I would have said I love you.
Carla, we are so sorry to hear about Lee. Ted is really going to miss his buddy hanging out in the garage together. So sorry we are not there. We will see you when we get home. Lee is really going to be missed in the neighborhood.
Carla and family,
The Kansas City Blues Society sends its condolences. Lee was a top-notch harp player and singer and a generous human being. We are so sorry for your loss.
My thoughts and prayers to Carla and family. The last time I saw Lee play was the Getaway in Topeka many years ago. We knew the family pretty well. His sister, we called her Bobbi, car-pooled from Holton to Topeka one year. Lee was one of the greatest musicians/harmonica player around. He will be missed by many.
Only saw him live once back east in Pennsylvania, and he knocked us out. Carla, our prayers are with you that Lee has found Perfect Peace.
Dear Carla, We were so shocked to hear about Lee’s sudden passing. Lee was one of a kind, not only as a musician and a performer, but as a genuine honest man with no false pretenses. He was always a joy to be around and we will miss his huge smile and hearty laugh. We will always remember his friendship and support of KNON over many years. Our condolences to you and your family.
Dear Carla, No words can console you. All we can do is let you know that we loved Lee and will always cherish our friendship, memories and appreciation for of his kind spirit. We’re not telling you anything you don’t already know. You lived life with Lee and we just shared moments. Be kind to yourself, find solace in your memories and allow time to heal and find peace. Lee will always be with you.
Carla, So sorry about Lee…..I will miss his smiling face.
My husband Galen and I worked with Lee at Stokely VanCamp back in the seventies,he was a great guy and we were blown away with his talents even back then! Lee could make that harmonica talk in a way that we knew he was on his way up. He made great music and was a terrific human being! He and his music will be greatly missed!
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