Ain't No Sunshine singer Bill Withers dead at 81

Withers brief eight-year career produced several hits, and led to his induction in Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Michael Gabriel Hernandez   | 03.04.2020
Ain't No Sunshine singer Bill Withers dead at 81


Soul singer Bill Withers, the maestro who gave the world such hits as Ain't No Sunshine and Lean On Me has died from heart complications at 81, his family said Friday.

Withers died Monday in Los Angeles, according to the family statement, which was issued to the Associated Press.

“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 statement said. “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 was a three-time Grammy award-winner during his eight-year career, and he famously overcame a childhood stutter while enlisted in the Navy where he served for nine years before being honorably discharged.

He then moved to Los Angeles where he began his career in music after purchasing a guitar from from a pawn shop that he used to begin writing music, according to the AP.

He signed to Sussex Records in 1971, and that year released his first album Just As I Am, produced by the legend Booker T. Jones. It contained such hits as Ain't No Sunshine and Grandma's Hands, propelling Withers on the Billboard charts.

“He’s the last African-American Everyman,” Roots drummer and joint front-man Questlove said in a 2015 Rolling Stone interview. “Jordan’s vertical jump has to be higher than everyone. Michael Jackson has to defy gravity. On the other side of the coin, we’re often viewed as primitive animals. We rarely land in the middle. Bill Withers is the closest thing black people have to a Bruce Springsteen.”

Withers was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by fellow renowned black singer and songwriter Stevie Wonder in 2015.

"Bottom line is this: Stevie Wonder knows my name and the brother just put me in the Hall of Fame," WIthers said in closing out his acceptance speech, bringing the packed auditorium to its feet in raucous applause.

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