Bill Withers, who wrote and sang a string of soulful songs in the 1970s that have stood the test of time, including Lean On Me, Lovely Day and Ain’t No Sunshine, has died from heart complications. He was 81.
His family said in a statement that the three-time Grammy Award winner, who withdrew from making music in the mid-1980s, died on Monday in Los Angeles.
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.
The statement 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.”
It goes on two say “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’ songs during his brief career have become the soundtracks of countless engagements, weddings and backyard parties.
Lean On Me, a paean to friendship, was performed at the inaugurations of both Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.
Ain’t No Sunshine and Lean on Me are among Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.