Hubbard passed from multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that he was diagnosed with in 2007 that forced him to leave the band. According to his wife Stephanie Hubbard, his cancer returned last month after being in remission for several years.
On Twitter, The Roots paid tribute to their former bandmate.
“It’s with the heaviest of hearts that we say goodbye to our brother Leonard Nelson Hubbard,” the tweet read.”May your transition bring peace to your family, to your friends, to your fans and all of those who loved you. Rest in Melody, Hub.”
A native of West Philadelphia, Hubbard studied music at Settlement Music School in Philadelphia and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Eventually, he would team up with Questlove and Black Thought of the Roots in 1992 and would remain the band’s bassist, with his signature chew stick, for the next 25 years.
Recalling becoming a part of the band in an interview with Philadelphia Inquirer, Hubbard discovered that he had instant chemistry with his future bandmates. “They didn’t know me from Adam,” Hubbard said. “Questlove told me to take a solo, and when he saw that I was a virtuoso, he was like ‘Oh, man, keep playing, keep playing.’”
During his time with The Roots as the band’s anchor on bass, Hubbard played on their first seven albums and helped to launch the group as one of the most renowned live acts in music. But due to the group’s demanding tour schedule and his cancer diagnosis, Hubbard left the band in 2007.
Although he departed from the Roots, Hubbard was still in demand as a session player and backing musician. At the time of his passing, he curated an album of music he composed and played throughout his remarkable career. “He wanted to be known for the type of music he was composing,” Stephanie said. “And before he died, he was sitting there at night listening to the music, and he was so happy with it.”
In addition to his wife Stephanie, Hubbard is survived by two stepdaughters and a stepson. We extend our prayers and condolences to the family and friends of Leonard Hubbard.