Leonard “Hub” Hubbard, a founding member of and the former bassist for the unorthodox Philadelphia-based hip-hop group The Roots, died this week at the age of 62, according to local ABC affiliate WPVI.
Hubbard’s death was attributed to cancer. Hubbard was first diagnosed more than a decade ago, according to wife Stephanie, but his health suddenly took a turn for the worst on Wednesday.
“I was called to the hospital. They told me what had happened, that he had passed. I went to the hospital and was able to sit with him,” she told WPVI through tears. Hubbard’s wife said COVID-related precautions prevented her from remaining by her husband’s side in the hospital.
Hubbard’s bad turn was sudden and unexpected. His wife Stephanie described him as “energetic and mobile” on Tuesday but said that he “couldn’t move” by Wednesday.
Hubbard had been diagnosed with a type of blood cancer known as multiple myeloma in 2007, which prompted his exit from the band he helped form 15 years earlier. He did reunite with his bandmates for a handful of performances in the years that followed, however.
Despite no longer performing regularly with the band and undergoing two separate rounds of chemotherapy, Hubbard’s wife said that her husband remained active as far as composing and producing music for other artists, including R&B singer Jill Scott.
15 years with the band
According to Rolling Stone, Hubbard, born in Philadelphia, joined the group in 1992, just before they released their first album, 1993’s Organix.
He stayed with The Roots and took part in performing and recording the group’s next six albums.
Following the news of Hubbard’s death, a statement was posted to the band’s official social media accounts.
“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,” the group said. “Rest in Melody Hub.”
Left unmentioned by that group statement, but noted in the reports from both WPVI and Rolling Stone, was the fact that all was not well between Hubbard and his former bandmates in recent years. The founding member sued the group in 2016 over an alleged contract dispute — a suit that is reportedly still active.
Hubbard had claimed that, per a contract signed at the time of his departure, he’d been named a “co-owner” of the band. But he said he’d actually been getting paid less than the other members, and had even been threatened with having all of his health insurance benefits and future revenue cut off by a former manager in 2014.