Current page: Remembering Lee Abbott
Current page: Remembering Lee Abbott
21st January 1950 ~ 4th March 2012
Below: Lee Abbott, 2011
Lee was born in Gravesend, way down on the Thames estuary. His father, Arthur, worked in the docks; his mother, Grace, worked on bringing him into the world. From school to building sites he had an idea way down in his quiet soul that music was to be the way ahead.
He told me, and I think that went for so many of us, ‘I was working on an assembly line at the time and heard the Beatles. That was it. Sorted.’ He had a great love of anything original. A great set of ears. He went on up to London all the time, catching everyone and everything and soaking it in like water into a sponge.
His chosen instrument was bass. Later heavily influenced by Jaco Pastorious, at this time, he checked out the incredible Danny Thompson, working with the fledgling Pentangle. This led him on to Magna Carta. The acoustic threesome that went on to make inroads into the charts. He loved their originality and Danny, at the time, involved them into Pentangle gigs, apart from playing on the first six albums. Lee’s time was way up ahead.
He went out professionally through various bands touring Europe. Then a set of gigs with Albert Lee. Cutting his chops as he went, it occurred to him to get in touch with Magna Carta, and sent a resume of his musical journey so far, He always maintained: ‘I was a fan from the start.’
It was Tom Hoy who called him back in ’75. ‘Want to come on in?’ We checked him out. He was just so good. Folk clubs to the Albert Hall. 8 million albums later. All these years later, so many countries across the world under his belt. From the hotlands to the Arctic Circle, we toured. So many albums were made, his stunning basslines underpinning the sound, and what I always loved and respected about him was his deep love of the music and the vast reservoir of experience that he drew upon.
Sure, we fell out, but then that made the falling back in all the sweeter. Is that not the way of things? But I value and appreciate the friendship we enjoyed thereafter so much. Through Magna Carta, he met his wonderful wife, Shirley. A diamond. Nothing less. He leaves a son, Tom, and daughter, Alex, and this ‘diamond’ thing is quite catching. For they are diamonds too.
Oh, Lee, so many nights we pulled the stars out of the sky and used them for musical placemats. Once you were there on that stage,- I knew it would always be OK. Today, well, you’ve moved on and your kind will not come this way again. I’ll miss you. The wit; the crazy stories, but above all - the style of a great musician. In the words of a Tina Turner hit…you were, and always will be…. ‘Simply the Best.’ Love you now and always.
Chris Simpson. Magna Carta
On Monday, March 5th, 2012, we received the sad news that longtime Magna Carta bass player Lee Abbott has passed away, earlier that day. Lee was a master on the fretless bass and played on and off with Magna Carta since the 1970s.
Our deepest sympathy goes to his wife and children.
Lee Abbott at the Carré, Amsterdam, May 9th, 2009 [photo: Harry Pater]
It is with heavy heart and a deep sadness, that I reflect on the terrible news of Lee's passing.
I had the chilling phone call yesterday from my wife informing me of the tragic news, and immediately called Chris. I sat in my car shaking as we talked, both of us fighting back the tears.
Lee was an extraordinarily good bass player and a good friend, but above that he was an an amazing father to his lovely children and caring husband to dear Shirley.
I'm so glad we had the opportunity to do the Carré show together, that week in the Eekhoornnest, travelling over on the plane, rehearsing, laughing, playing music and getting to know each other again, seeing where the years had taken us and what we had become. He had blossomed into a fine, caring person.
He will be missed, but he was and is much loved and that will never die.
Tom Hoy, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire. March 6, 2012
Below: Tom, Chris and Lee in Lee's garden, 2011
Like everyone else, I was shocked at the news that Lee Abbott had passed away.
It was my great good fortune to work with him, and call him a friend, down a good many years.
Lee leaves behind him many hours of great music, a host of great memories and a wonderful family who must, right now, be wondering how they will go on without him.
My heart and prayers are with them for their loss. I only hope it brings them comfort that he was held in such high regard by so many; both as a man and for his music.
It was a privilege to both know & work with Lee, and it was an honour to be asked to be both a godfather and a guardian of his children.
May he rest in peace.
The traveller has moved on down a road that knows no master And for those left behind in the scheme of things to weep and to mourn The question is forever, and for why?
The answer lies somewhere beyond the stars; it is riven in the rock It is blown like gossamer across the brown fields of Summer to thunder in the scend of the restless sea It is carried on the edges of the wind over fields of asphodel. And it lies awake in the hearts of those who know and love.
For greatness is not measured in the false dawn of those who seek our fickle applause. It lies in the words and the notes of those blessed enough to pour sunlight upon our world. Lee was such of these. His legacy is perennial as the grass. His fingers blessed to tempt our ears and bring joy to our hearts; his spirit to melt our senses. He was of a time gone past and a time to come. For those with ears.
He was, and is, a soul durable as steel. A man unique in what he did. A blazing star in the musical firmament. A man who loved and is loved. Now and forever.
Old friend, hopefully, I’ll catch you around the next bend of the road, and until then, May the wind be ever at your back; May the road always rise up to greet you; May the sun shine warm upon your face; And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of his hand.