The iconic singer of legendary songs like ‘Ain’t On Sunshine’, ‘Lean On Me’ and ‘Lovely Day’, Bill Withers, has passed away at age 81 following heart complications. The three-time Grammy Award winner died on Monday in Los Angeles.
His death comes as many have been flocking to his most famous hits in need of inspiration amid the coronavirus outbreak, as key workers, choirs and artists have all performed renditions of his song ‘Lean On Me’.
The singer withdrew from the public eye in the mid-80s and has lived a quiet life since then but his impact through his positive and heartening music will be felt for generations to come.
Associated Press shared the family’s statement: “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.”
“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.”
Withers may have spent a relatively short time in the public eye but his impact is still felt to this day. The singer, unlike any other artist, made his name with tracks that were deeply uplifting as well as technically exemplary. His three crowning achievements being ‘Lean On Me,’ ‘Ain’t No Sunshine,’ and ‘Lovely Day’.
The musician was the youngest of six children and was born 4th July, 1938, in the coal mining town of Slab Fork, West Virginia. He then moved to nearby Beckley after his mother and father divorced when he was just three years old.
His first album arrived in 1971 on Sussex Records and was titled Just As I Am featuring his first legendary hit ‘Ain’t No Sunshine.’ The track was originally released as the B-side of his debut single ‘Harlem’ but DJs across the country soon flipped it over and the song climbed the charts.
On his second album, Still Bill, the singer again provided another iconic hit ‘Lean On Me’ the final piece of his triumvirate of hits came a little later with ‘Lovely Day’. After Sussex Records went bust Withers was picked up by Columbia records but never clicked with the commercial powerhouse.
Withers won his Grammys as a songwriter for ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ in 1971 and for ‘Just The Two Of Us’ in 1981. In 1987, Bill received his third Grammy as a songwriter for the re-recording of the 1972 hit ‘Lean On Me’ by Club Noveau.
In 2015, Withers told Rolling Stone, “I’m not a virtuoso, but I was able to write songs that people could identify with. I don’t think I’ve done bad for a guy from Slab Fork, West Virginia.”
Withers is survived by wife Marcia and his children Todd and Kori.