9:50 AM PST, December 17, 2021
Hubbard was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer, in 2007.
“It’s with the heaviest of hearts that we say goodbye to our brother Leonard Nelson Hubbard,” the Roots wrote in a statement. “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.”
Hubbard joined The Roots in 1992 when the Philadelphia hip-hop collective were still known as Square Roots, according to Pitchfork. He played on every Roots record between 1992 and 2006, including their 1993 debut, “Organix”; the acclaimed 1995 release “Do You Want More?!!!??!”; the critically hailed “Illadelph Halflife,” in 1996; as well as 1999’s “Things Fall Apart,” 2002’s commercial breakthrough “Phrenology,” and its successors, 2004’s “The Tipping Point,” and 2006’s “Game Theory.”
He also performed with the group as they backed Jay-Z for his historic 2001 “MTV Unplugged” special.
His widow, Stephanie, said that he had recently finished recording an album featuring Jill Scott, Ben Harper and Vernon Reid of Living Colour, according to Okayplayer.
“He wanted to be known for the type of music he was composing,” said Stefanie. “And before he died, he was sitting there at night listening to the music, and he was so happy with it.”
Hubbard was known for his dynamic stage presence and always having a chew stick in his mouth as he played.
Hubbard is survived by his wife, stepdaughters India Owens and Onita Owens, and stepson Edward Owens.