Legendary Philadelphia guitarist Jef Lee Johnson has died reports are saying. He was around 53 or 54 years old and there is no word yet on how he passed away. Jef Lee Johnson’s guitar playing has spanned several decades, genres and generations. He’s played with everyone from Esperanza Spalding to Questlove and The Roots.
Jef Lee Johnson reportedly learned his skills from playing with jazz giant McCoy Tyner, a fellow Philly native and one of the greatest pianists ever. Johnson was also a member of The Soultronics, a massive super-group featuring members of The Roots, keyboardist James Poyser, bassist Pino Palladino, and others.
This connection led to him working on such classics as Erykah Badu‘s Mama’s Gun and Common‘s Like Water for Chocolate. Johnson also toured extensively as a member of D’Angelo‘s backing band. Questo of The Roots tweeted this morning,
“to my soulquarian/soultronic brother Jef Lee Johnson you will be missed. you were such a magical musician & gentle human being.”
Take a second to check out a video clip of an intimate show Jef Lee Johnson did in May of last year with bassist Chico Huff.