Bill Withers, the soul singer who in the 1970s wrote classics such as “Lean On Me,” “Lovely Day,” and “Ain’t No Sunshine” died Monday March 30th at 81 years old.
Withers passed away from heart complications according to his family. The news comes as his song “Lean On Me” has been a key source of inspiration as the world deals with the gripping effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
“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,” the family statement read. “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 Slab Fork, West Virginia, Withers was the last of six children and in 1971, began a music career that would result in three Grammy wins, a lifetime of admiration from fellow songwriters and other musicians sampling his work for their own hits. “Just The Two Of Us,” a collaboration with Grover Washington Jr. would be one of his final hits as he stepped away from music in the mid-1980s.
A Rock And Roll Hall of Fame inductee in 2015, his songs inspired films such as “Lean On Me” with Morgan Freeman and were used in pop culture classics such as “The Hangover,” “28 Days,” “American Beauty,” “Jerry Maguire,” “Crooklyn,” “Flight,” “Beauty Shop,” “The Secret Life of Pets” and “Flight.”
Each of Withers’ most noted songs instantly triggers a memory of backyard barbecues or solemn thoughts. According to Questlove, Withers was the “closest thing black people had to Bruce Springsteen.” Check out the list of his most notable records below.
1. Just the Two of Us
2. Ain’t No Sunshine
3. Lovely Day
4. Lean on Me
His first and only number one single that landed on both the soul singles and the Billboard Hot 100 in the US.