Born and raised on the west side of Chicago Timothy Lee (he is known by friends as TLee) started his music training early. His father loved the blues and that’s all he listened to. “Howlin wolf’s voice was so powerful that it scared me at the age of 6 or 7.”
Tlee is the youngest of 7 so he was constantly being forced to listen to the music of his siblings. Rufus, Stevie Wonder, Jackson 5, Parliament were played as well as The Beatles, Kiss, The Eagles and Steely Dan. At the age of 10 Tlee remembers traveling with his older sister Deborah as she went to audition for a soul band. This audition was mesmerizing for him. “That was the first time I was in front of real guitars and drums and amps and it was amazing. These were heroes to me because they made music.” Tlee’s world would never be the same after that. After messing around with toy guitars he finally got a real one at 12.
By the time he was a sophomore Chicago’s performing arts Metro High school he was playing in bands and writing songs. After picking up a friend’s bass a few years later, Tlee fell in love with the instrument and began focusing more on it rather than lead and rhythm guitar. Being self-taught has added to the uniqueness of his sound. “Curtis Mayfield was self taught and that gave him his own distinct sound because he tuned his guitar differently and now that sound is gone forever.”
After furthering his education at Columbia college Tlee trained in theory and songwriting. He studied under renowned band leader William Russo and Composer Kimo Williams. “Theory is something that has to be used or you lose it. I think I have lost 75% of it” says Tlee.
Major influences are Curtis, Prince, James brown (of course), George Clinton (and almost anyone associated with P-Funk) and Sly Stone. “Larry Graham James Jamerson and Bootsy are probably the only bass players that matter, but there are some other great ones.” Raphael Saadiq along with Tony Toni Tone are major influences. You can throw the Roots, Citizen Cope, Dangelo, Sade, Lenny kravitz, The Beatles and Outkast in there.
Tlee and his bass have opened for many local and established acts like Erykah Badu, Nina Sky, Kimo Williams and Bash. He has also performed with hip-hop groups such as Beat Monstas and Phashara and the list goes on. “I just want to make music and hopefully get a few people to bob their heads to it.”