Leonard “Hub” Hubbard, longtime Roots bassist, dead at 62

Hubbard was a member of the Philadelphia hip-hop collective from 1992 to 2007

Leonard “Hub” Hubbard, who played bass for Philadelphia hip-hop collective The Roots between 1992 and 2007, has died at the age of 62.

As the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, the news was confirmed by Hubbard’s wife Stephanie, who said the musician’s cause of death was multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer that Hubbard was diagnosed with in 2007.

She added that up until last month he had been in remission, and had continued to work on music in recent years. Hubbard was hospitalised on Wednesday night (December 15).

The Roots paid tribute to their former bandmate on social media earlier today (December 17), writing: “It’s with the heaviest of hearts that we say goodbye to our brother Leonard Nelson Hubbard. May your transition bring peace to your family to your friends to your fans and all of those who loved you.”

Hubbard joined the Roots in 1992, just prior to the group releasing their debut album ‘Organix’ in 1993.

Hubbard played bass on a slew of the band’s early records, including 1996’s ‘Illadelph Halflife’, 1999’s ‘Things Fall Apart’ and 2004’s ‘The Tipping Point’. The last album Hubbard recorded with the band was 2006’s ‘Game Theory’ – he left the group the following year.

Despite his departure, he made brief, occasional reunions with the collective, including at the annual Roots Picnic in 2008 and again in 2010, joining the band and John Legend onstage.

Stephanie Hubbard told the Inquirer that in recent years, Hubbard had been compiling an album of songs under his own name that he wrote music for, with artists include Jill Scott, Ben Harper and Vernon Reid. The album was completed last week, she said.

“He wanted to be known for the type of music he was composing,” Hubbard’s wife told the Inquirer. “And before he died, he was sitting there at night listening to the music, and he was so happy with it.”

In 2016, Hubbard sued former bandmates Questlove and Black Thought, alleging that his contract with the band made him a co-owner, but that he wasn’t compensated as such. The lawsuit has not yet been settled.

Hubbard is the second longtime Roots member who has died in recent years. In July 2020, founding member Malik B. died at the age of 47.

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