Bill Withers, who wrote and sang a string of soulful songs in the 70s like Lean On Me, Lovely Day and Ain’t No Sunshine, has died from heart complications.
The family’s statement to AP said,
“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.”
The three-time Grammy-winner died on Monday in LA. His death comes as the public has drawn inspiration from his music during the coronavirus pandemic, with health care workers, choirs, artists and more posting their own renditions on Lean on Me to help get through the difficult times.
Lean On Me, was performed at the inaugurations of both Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and along with Ain’t No Sunshine are on Rolling Stone‘s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Musician and band leader Questlove said in 2015,
“Bill Withers is the closest thing black people have to a Bruce Springsteen.”
Lovely Day, co-written with Skip Scarborough, features Withers holding the word “day” for 19 seconds.
Sting said in the 2010 documentary of Withers Still Bill,
“The hardest thing in songwriting is to be simple and yet profound. And Bill seemed to understand, intrinsically and instinctively, how to do that.”
Withers was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015 by Stevie Wonder and he told Rolling Stone that year,
“‘I’m not a virtuoso, but I was able to write songs that people could identify with. I do’t think I’ve done bad for a guy from Slab Fork, West Virginia.”
He is survived by his wife, Marcia, and children, Todd and Kori.
Bill Withers was 81.