Rock artists responded immediately on Monday (November 12th) to the death of Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee, who passed away that morning at the age of 95 after being rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Lee was born as Stanley Lieber in Manhattan on December 28th, 1922. He went to work as a teenager at Timely Comics, the forerunner of what briefly became Atlas Comics and then Marvel. Working his way up to editor and writer, Lee and artist Jack Kirby changed the face of comics and pop culture forever in 1961 when they created the superhero team The Fantastic Four.
From that point on, Lee — along with Kirby and other artists like Steve Ditko — launched one iconic character after another, including Iron Man, Thor, Spider-Man, the Hulk, the Avengers, the X-Men, Daredevil, Black Panther, Doctor Strange and many more, all existing together in a shared universe that became known as the Marvel Universe. The comics, books, movies, games and TV shows that have sprung from the work done by Lee, Kirby and others are now the basis of a multi-billion-dollar multi-media empire owned by Disney.
Lee's characters were groundbreaking in that they were flawed, vulnerable and insecure, subject to family fights, financial difficulties and other normal human problems and issues. The stories also addressed concerns of their times such as racism and war.
Many rock musician were inspired by Lee's stories and characters. Rob Zombie wrote, “Marvel comics was one of the best things I remember about being a kid. Thanks for everything. What would we have done without you?”
Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett offered, “Stan Lee was a visionary and a pioneer. I owe a lot to him for personally shaping my childhood fantasy worlds, my appreciation for art on all levels, & for teaching me humanness and humility through his wonderfully insightful stories.”
Slipknot and Stone Sour frontman Corey Taylor said simply, “Heartbroken. Thank you for making me believe in heroes,” while Bad Wolves guitarist Doc Coyle remarked, “RIP Stan Lee. A true legend.”
Gene Simmons of Kiss, who were the subject of their own Marvel comic book in 1977, wrote, “Thank you for making my childhood so much more exciting with your astonishing superhero characters. Thank you for inspiring me to think and dream big. Thank you for the Hulk, Thor, Fantastic Four and many others. You will be sadly missed.”
Lee had been ill in recent years and lost his wife of 69 years, Joan, in July 2017. He is survived by a daughter, Joan “J.C.” Lee, along with the universe, characters and stories that will endure for generations to come.