R.I.P. Michael Lee
Classic Rock is sad to report the death of Michael Lee, the drummer that first found fame with Little Angels, before playing with such artists as Robert Plant, Page & Plant, Thin Lizzy, Ian Gillan, Lenny Kravitz, The Quireboys and The Cult. Lee was just 39 years old.
It’s believed that he died in his sleep at his home in Darlington, of causes yet to be revealed.
Lee joined Little Angels from Holosade in 1988, having played on the latter’s Hell House album. He featured on Little Angels’ Don’t Prey For Me and Young Gods albums (1989 and 1991 respectively) before being replaced by Mark Richardson when he group discovered that he had auditioned for The Cult.
In later years Lee joined the solo band of Robert Plant, playing on the Fate Of Nations album in 1993. Plant was so impressed with Michael’s contribution that when he reunited with Jimmy Page, Lee was carried over to the Unledded sessions and joined the duo’s band for the No Quarter album. Lee and bassist Charlie Jones are heavily credited alongside Page and Plant as co-writers on the Walking Into Clarksdale album. Most recently, Lee toured with the reunited Thin Lizzy and appeared as part of an all-star cast on Ian Gillan’s 2006 CD/DVD Gillan’s Inn.
Singer Toby Jepson says: “I first met Mike when the Little Angels were seeking a new drummer. We had all but given up hope of finding anyone that could do the job. He arrived last in the only clothes he owned, a pair of sticks and a huge grin; anyone who had the pleasure of knowing Mike will know what I mean. He then proceeded to play the life out of the rubbish kit that we had hired for the auditions. He was so good that he actually made me laugh! It was the only honest reaction I could muster. I had never experienced such raw unadulterated talent, nor have I since; it was an incredible display that quite simply took my breath away. He was awesome to behold. He was simply one of, if not the greatest drummer of his generation. He had everything: groove, power, musical precision, technical ability, sass and he made it all look so easy.”
Continues Jepson: “After leaving Little Angels he achieved great heights with The Cult, Page & Plant, Echo and the Bunnymen and most recently Thin Lizzy and Ian Gillan. We lost touch but I followed his career from a far and was sad when he seemed to have stopped playing and dropped off the radar. Like everybody he had his demons, but I choose to remember, and will never forget that fun-lovin’, easy-going lad that always seemed to be about 100 feet tall. The world has lost a true musical genius and a wonderfully eccentric character. It was a privilege to have worked with him. RIP.”
A devastated Spike, singer of The Quireboys, called Classic Rock to say: “I’ve just heard the news and I’m gutted. Since it started this band has had twenty-odd drummers, Michael was the best. He and I were partners in crime; we always had such a laugh. He had some of the hardest jobs in the world, replacing John Bonham and Brian Downey, but that’s the mark of the musician he was.”
Daniel Stanton of Coallier Entertainment, a company that managed Thin Lizzy, says: “Michael was an amazing drummer and equally an amazing person. He will truly be missed. Our prayers go out to his family.”
More tributes to follow.