Remembering and Honoring Maplewood’s Lee Sackett

0 FacebookTwitterPinterestEmail


When Maplewood’s Lee Sackett was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April, his widow Maura Sackett graciously spent some time on the phone for an interview and sent some photos.

But I never got the story posted.

Now in the spirit of “better late than never,” I’m publishing this story about Lee Sackett. And Father’s Day seems a fitting time to do it. My conversation with Maura and a little bit of research reveal a man who was also a great neighbor, friend, husband and father.

Performing professionally as Lee Crystal, Sackett was the drummer for Joan Jett and the Blackhearts during their most successful time in the 1980s, churning out hits like “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” and covers of “Crimson and Clover” and “Everyday People.” Later, Lee played with the bands Crash Conference and Secret Chiefs.

Eventually Sackett and his wife Maura, a former model and actress, started a family and settled down. “We had a mortgage and co-op in Brooklyn,” Maura said. Lee got a job selling furniture with Jennifer Convertibles. “He did what he needed to do support his family,” said Maura, and, with his gregarious personality, he was a successful salesman. Ultimately, like many New Yorkers, the Sacketts found themselves in need of more space and good schools, ending up in Maplewood.

It was a mutually beneficial relocation. The Sacketts were good for Maplewood — where Maura continues to teach 5th grade at Tuscan School — and Maplewood was good to the Sacketts. Through Lee’s long and debilitating battle with MS, the community rallied. Ultimately, Tuscan School fielded a team for the annual MuckFest which raises funds for MS. Earlier this month several Tuscan teachers and family friends joined Maura and sons Sean, 26, and Cameron, 23, in the MuckFest, raising about $1,000 for the cause.

“The school community has been hugely supportive,” Maura said back in April. “Maplewood is just such a wonderful community. We have deep rooted friendships here. I’m glad to be living here.”

When Lee passed away in November 2013, tributes flooded Facebook pages and music industry publications. Maplewood resident Lois DeSocio — a former editor of The New York Times “The Local” website covering our towns — penned this lovely tribute, including these words:

“He never gave up. He insisted on excellence. He remained gracious in spite of unimaginable odds and resistances. He did not stand for mediocrity.”

At the time of his death, Joan Jett released this statement:

“Lee Crystal was a gentleman and a gentle man. He was a Blackheart during some magical times. We love him and will miss him.”

The Blackhearts were nominated twice before finally being inducted. Although Lee did not live to receive the honor himself, Maura and sons Sean and Cameron traveled to Cleveland in April on his behalf.

“It was a wonderful experience,” said Maura.


Click on any image below to see a slideshow of pictures of Lee as well as some images of his family at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, and enjoy glimpses of Lee in this music video:

Related Articles