Lee Andrews, lead singer of the Philadelphia doo-wop group Lee Andrews & the Hearts, died Wednesday on March 16. He was 79. Andrews’ son, the Roots drummer Ahmir “Questlove” ” Thompson, confirmed his father’s death with a written tribute where Questlove called Andrews “the Greatest Teacher in my life.”
Questlove posted his Instagram:
“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”
Born Arthur Lee Andrews Thompson in North Carolina, Andrews’ family moved to Philadelphia when he was two. Andrews and the Hearts formed in 1953 and subsequently recorded singles for labels like Chess, United Artists and Gotham. Their biggest hits came in 1957 and 1958 with “Long Lonely Nights” (Andrews and the Hearts performed the song on the fifth national episode of American Bandstand), “Tear Drops” and “Try the Impossible,” their last charting single.
After a brief breakup in 1960, Andrews and an amorphous lineup of the Hearts – renamed at times as the 5 Hearts or the Famous Hearts – continued recording together until 1968.
Andrews’ last recorded project was a soul group called Congress Alley, which recorded an album in 1973. The band featured Andrews’ wife and Questlove’s mother Jacquelin Thompson. As a young child, Questlove accompanied his parents on tour, learning how to drum at a young age. We are not currently aware of any official tributes or other memorial arrangements at this time.
Rest In Peace, Mr. Andrews.