Singer Bill Withers 1938 – 2020
Singer-songwriter Bill Withers has died at the age of 81. The Associated Press confirmed the news Withers passed due to heart complications and shared a statement written by the legendary Grammy Award winner’s family.
Bill Withers wrote, sang and recorded a number of iconic songs between 1971 – 1980 that included “Lean On Me,” “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Grandma’s Hands,” “Use Me” and “Just The Two Of Us.” Withers then walked away from the music industry aside from a few rare appearances. “We are devastated by the loss of our beloved, devoted husband and father. A solitary man with a heart driven to connect to the world at large, with his poetry and music, he spoke honestly to people and connected them to each other,” started the note from the family. “As private a life as he lived close to intimate family and friends, his music forever belongs to the world. In this difficult time, we pray his music offers comfort and entertainment as fans hold tight to loved ones.”
Born in the small town of Slab Fork, West Virginia on the Fourth of July in 1938, Withers started honing his skills writing and singing music following a nine-year stint in the Navy. Bill Withers released his debut album, Just As I Am, in 1971 and scored hits with “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Grandma’s Hands.” Still Bill came in 1972 featuring more songs that still resonate as much today as they did then including “Lean On Me” and “Use Me.” The stellar live album, Live At Carnegie Hall, followed in 1973 and showed off his touring outfit featuring members of the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band — guitarist Benorce Blackmon, bassist Melvin Dunlap, keyboardist Ray Jackson and drummer James Gadson as well as percussionist Bobbye Hall.
Bill Withers went on to release +’Justments in 1974, Making Music in 1975, Naked & Warm in 1976, Menagerie in 1977 and ‘Bout Love in 1978. Menagerie contained the hit “Lovely Day” and was his best-selling album in the UK. In 1980, Bill Withers co-wrote and contributed his voice to the Grover Washington Jr. smash “Just The Two Of Us.” Ever since, Bill Withers has shied away from the spotlight, though covers of his songs — namely Club Nouveau’s version of “Lean On Me” — introduced his music to new audiences.
In 2015, Stevie Wonder had the honor of inducting Bill Withers into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. Withers passed away on Monday at his home in Los Angeles as per the AP’s report.