He found part time employment playing with the Swinging Cats in the early 1950s. The outfit included Carey Bell, who Lee took under his 'fatherly' protection, and they jointly relocated to Chicago, Illinois in September 1956. Lee worked during the day in a woodworking factory, and for many years played in the evening in numerous Chicago blues nightclubs, including Porter's Lounge. He was well known around Chicago for his blues piano playing.
Lee later worked as an upholsterer, but kept together his backing band, known as the Sensationals. After he retired from full-time day work, Lee joined Muddy Waters band in 1979, replacing Pinetop Perkins on the piano stool. He was recommended to Muddy Waters by George "Mojo" Buford, after Lee had worked with Buford in North Dakota. Lee stayed until Muddy's death in 1983, and then returned to playing in Chicago clubs. Lee made some private recordings in both 1984 and 1989, and this work plus later contemporary tracks, were released as the album Good Candy (1992). His recording utilised musicians such as Eddie Taylor, Odie Payne, plus both Carey and Lurrie Bell. Lee died in Chicago in May 1997. He was the 'adoptive stepfather' of fellow bluesman, Carey Bell, and thus 'grandfather' to Lurrie Bell.
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