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Quietus: Lee Andrews – A Philadelphia Doo-Wop Legend

Mars Blomgren

Mars Blomgren

Maureen "Mars" Blomgren is a writer, photographer, painter, social media overlord. Mars is a loyal servant to her Pekingese named Henry. She's had her work used for album covers, posters, commissioned paintings, branding, merchandise and more. Mars has one of those new-fangled #blendedfamilies that she loves. Mars supports & promotes live music, animals and the truth. She is a proud Philly Girl that will defend the underdog till the end.
Mars Blomgren

I learned a lot from my father Howard Blomgren, things that I’ve needed to know and things that were just cool to know. Much of what Dad has passed onto me was his love and appreciation for music, all music, every kind of music. That lesson was most likely the most important lesson; for me, all of life and its mysteries can be solved through music whether I’m listening to it, sharing it, promoting it, seeing it performed live, painting it or just letting it drive my destiny.

Out of the endless genres of music my father loves is Doo-Wop, and particularly the doo-wop that came out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There was a lot being made here in the fifties and sixties. I would hear over and over how Dad would like The Five Keys or The Orioles. One of his all time favorites was Lee Andrews of Lee Andrews and the Hearts. When I asked Dad about Lee he had this to say.

Lee formed the Hearts in Southwest Philly. He married a girl I went to high school (John Bartram High School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) with Barbara Custis, one of the nicest singers and nicest guys I ever met. We went over there a couple times to see him, he had a flea market type of thing over there on Baltimore Pike (Delaware County, Pennsylvania) where he sold stuff. Anyhow he had just had open heart surgery, I don’t know how many years ago – the years go by fast – but me and Eddie, (Dad’s best friend Eddie Boggs, another John Bartram High School alumnus) had just came from having a roast pork sandwich up there and Lee gave us hell! ‘Stop eating those damn roast pork sandwiches youse guys!’ Lee was a big roast pork lover evidently.

He was an alright (righteous) guy, he was a good singer and I really liked him.” – Howard Blomgren

Lee Andrews and Howard Blomgren circa 1999 Photo courtesy of Howard Blomgren

Lee Andrews and Howard Blomgren circa 1999
Photo courtesy of Howard Blomgren

Lee was born Arthur Lee Andrew Thompson and formed The Hearts in Philadelphia in 1953. Among the many songs recorded by them they had three chart toppers with “Try the Impossible”, “Teardrops” and “Long Lonely Nights”. Lee Andrews and The Hearts were inducted into the Philadelphia Music Alliance Walk of Fame in 1992, the same day that The Roots were recording their first demo. The Roots were inducted into the Walk of Fame in 2015. The Roots induction gave Questlove and Lee the honor of being the first father and son to be inducted on the Walk.

Lee Andrews and The Hearts

Lee Andrews and The Hearts

Yesterday on Wednesday, March 16, 2016 Lee Andrews passed away at 79 years old. Lee’s son, Ahmed “Questlove” Thompson (drummer for The Roots) wrote a heartfelt tribute on his Instagram page confirming his father’s death.

“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

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

A video posted by Questlove Gomez (@questlove) on