Soul Legend Bill Withers Dead At The Age of 81
Soul Legend Bill Withers, had the unique voice and penned timeless songs like “Lean on Me,” “Lovely Day” and “Ain’t No Sunshine,” has died from heart complications at the age of 81 according to a statement from his family.
“We are devastated by the loss of our beloved, devoted husband and father,” his family said in a statement. “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.”
The three-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, was born the last of six children in the rural coal mining town of Slab Fork, West Virginia.
He scored hits with “Grandma’s Hands” and the B-side “Ain’t No Sunshine,” on the release of his very first album, “Just As I Am,” in 1971 with the iconic Booker T. Jones producing.
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In 1977 he scored two more hits “Lovely Day,” co-written with Skip Scarborough and featuring Withers, and followed that hit with the classic “Just The Two Of Us,” co-written with Ralph MacDonald and William.
“Lean on Me” became the title theme of a 1989 Morgan Freeman film. And Withers was the subject of the 2009 documentary Still Bill. His music was also widely sampled in hip-hop: Famously, Blackstreet and Dr. Dre sampled Withers’ “Grandma’s Hands” for “No Diggity.”
“Lean on Me” also charted on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and 1973’s “Live at Carnegie Hall” ranked in the mag’s 50 Greatest Live Albums of All Time. Bill Withers was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.