April 04, 2020

Iconic Soul Singer Bill Withers Dead at 81

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Bill Withers was one of the most renowned voices in the soul scene but, sadly, he is no longer around, having recently passed away at the age of 81.

The heartbreaking news was shared by his family. According to their statement, the "Ain't No Sunshine" performer died from heart complications.



Withers' loved ones described him as a "solitary man with a heart driven to the world at large," and someone who was honest and able to connect people. They added:

"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 late 81-year-old had a brief career but he was a true artist, an individual who could write a simple, yet heartfelt song, and have it last for generations.

Withers passed away ten days after country legend Kenny Rogers

Withers' career started in 1970 when he signed a deal with Sussex Records. Prior to that, he served in the Navy for nine years as an aircraft mechanic installing toilets.


His first album, "Just As I Am," was released in 1971 with the help of Booker T. Jones and several of his tracks were inspired by the film "Days of Wine and Roses."

Thanks to his smooth voice and groovy melodies, Withers quickly became a top artist, releasing hits such as "Lean on Me," "Use Me" and "Lovely Day" in the following years.



According to Questlove, a fellow musician and bandleader, Withers was the last African-American Everyman and "the closest thing black people have to a Bruce Springsteen."

In "Still Bill," a 2010 documentary focused on Withers, Sting praised his ability to write songs with profound meaning. He said:

“The hardest thing in songwriting is to be simple and yet profound. And Bill seemed to understand, intrinsically and instinctively, how to do that."

Musician Bill Withers at the 25th Annual Trumpet Awards at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center in Atlanta, Georgia | Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Withers, who passed away ten days after country legend Kenny Rogers, retired in 1985, having won three Grammys for "Ain't No Sunshine," "Just the Two Of Us" and the re-recording of "Lean on Me."

He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame back in 2005 as well as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015 by none other than Stevie Wonder.