Hong Kong-American singer Coco Lee’s Canadian billionaire husband has spoken publicly for the first time since her death on Wednesday.
Lee, 48, who had battled depression and was recovering from major surgery, died at Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong, where she had been living.
Bruce Rockowitz, who is in his 60s and based in Hong Kong, is understood to have been away from the city when Lee died, but has since flown back.
In an obituary signed by Rockowitz and his two daughters from his previous marriage, he described his wife as a ‘beautiful person’ and a ‘caring mentor.’
‘Coco was a beautiful person inside and out, warm and kind’, the message read. ‘She was an accomplished singer-songwriter, a talented performer, a caring mentor to the younger generation, a beloved wife, a well-loved friend and a dear family member.’
Hong Kong-American singer Coco Lee’s Canadian billionaire husband Bruce Rockowitz (right) has spoken publicly for the first time since her death on Wednesday
The couple got married in 2011 after dating for eight years. The Canadian businessman is the chairman of Rock Media International and co-founder of the Pure Group, and the former CEO of the Hong Kong supply chain company Li & Fung.
He survives her, as do her sisters and two stepdaughters.
On Thursday night, Lee’s sister Nancy took to Facebook to tell fans that there are plans for memorial events for the star, who was a huge hit in Hong Kong and abroad.
The events will be held in Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan in August, she said, with more details to be announced at a later date.
Lee’s death was announced in a statement posted on Instagram and Facebook, three days after she attempted to take her own life.
She entered a coma, but passed away from Wednesday.
‘Although, Coco sought professional help and did her best to fight depression, it’s sad that the demon inside of her took the better of her,’ the statement said.
‘On July 2, she committed suicide at home and was sent to the hospital. Despite the best efforts of the hospital team to rescue and treat her from her coma, she finally passed away on July 5, 2023,’ it added.
Lee’s career spanned around 30 years. Among her most notable performances were voicing the female warrior Mulan in the Mandarin-language version of Disney’s ‘Mulan’ and performing the Oscar-nominated song ‘A Love Before Time’ from the film ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.’
She was born in Hong Kong in 1975 and was the youngest of three children of a Hong Kong Cantonese mother and Malaysian father.
Lee was hugely popular in China and Taiwan, especially in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and her death prompted an outpouring of grief in both and wall to wall news coverage in Taiwan.
One of the most read hashtags on her death generated 200 million reads on China’s Twitter-like Weibo microblogging site.
‘Will miss you forever. Miss your beautiful singing, your hearty laugh and your pretty smile,’ wrote one Chinese fan.
Coco Lee, who had battled depression and was recovering from major surgery, died at Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong, where she had been living
Lee’s father passed away before she was born, and by the age of 9 her mother had moved Lee and her sisters to the United States, to San Francisco.
After graduating high school in 1992, she was offered a recording contract in Hong Kong with Capital Artists, eventually leading her to depart from her studies at the University of California, Irvine, to focus on her music career.
In 1996, Lee signed with Sony Music Entertainment and her debut album, ‘Coco Lee,’ became the best-selling album of that year in Asia.
It wasn’t long before Lee gained fans in both Asia and the United States, which began her path to new collaborations and English-language songs.
She recorded 18 studio albums and appeared in three films, most notably Lee Xin’s ‘Master of Everything’ and ‘No Tobacco’ by Stanley Kwan.
In a final message on Sunday before she took her own life, she was praised by her fans as her ‘pillar of strength’ and that she was ‘working very hard’ to recover.
‘Dear, I am Coco. I feel everyone’s love and support and you are my pillar of strength,’ she heard saying in the audio message, which has been widely shared on social media, according to Taiwan News.
In a final message on Sunday before she took her own life, she was praised by her fans as her ‘pillar of strength’ and that she was ‘working very hard’ to recover
‘I will keep striving. During this time, I hope you all are also healthy and happy. I miss everyone very much. I am working very hard. I am thinking of you all. I miss you all so much! Love you, love you.’
Coco then switched to English, saying: ‘Thank you so much for the gifts. Beautiful and very thoughtful. Love you guys.’
Fans noted that it sounded as if her voice was breaking from emotion in the recording, and expressed their sadness over the fact that a few hours later, she would go on to attempt suicide ultimately leading to her death on Wednesday.
In her final Instagram post back in December, she said life over the past year had seemed ‘unbearable’ at times, with her sisters saying she struggled with depression.
She was also recovering from major surgery on her leg and pelvis to fix a birth defect, which she posted about on social media earlier this year.
The surgery lasted two hours and left her needing to learn to walk again. Clips posted online showed her in a hospital bed and walking with a frame.
She had suffered from injuries all her life, with surgery when she was just two years old not fully fixing the issue. It left her more reliable on her right leg for support.
Her impressive stage performances masked the injury, but the problem worsened in October when she injured herself during a dance rehearsal, The Sun reports.
This led to the major surgery being undertaken in February.
Coco revealed the extent of her health issues that month in a post on Facebook.
‘I was born with a defect in my left leg. When I was learning how to walk, my mom noticed that something wasn’t right and sent me to the hospital for surgery when I was just two years old,’ she wrote on February 23.
The surgery lasted two hours and left her needing to learn to walk again. Clips posted online showed her in a hospital bed and walking with a frame
Coco Lee was seen in a hospital bed shortly after undergoing the surgery earlier this year
‘Unfortunately, the surgery was unsuccessful. The doctor inserted a very thick metal rod through my left heel, and I had to wear a cast during that time, which made it very uncomfortable. This was torture to me as a child because I couldn’t move at all.’
She continued, saying she has ‘I’ve endured this pain for so many years and now it’s preventing me from living a normal life,’ adding that through surgery she was facing ‘my greatest challenge and biggest fear in my entire life.
‘I’ve never been afraid to take on any challenge because I would just take everything one step at a time. However, this time, I feel vulnerable. I’ve always felt like escaping, but this time, it’s inevitable,’ she wrote.
‘I will need to relearn how to walk. I hope that everyone will accompany me through this difficult journey. I need you more than never. You will always be in my heart and I will always love you. I am that great wall that will never fall!’
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