Soul Singer Bill Withers Has Died; His 'Lean On Me' Continues To Inspire
Soul singer Bill Withers has died at 81. The 1970s superstar, whose music ranged from joyful to full of pain, "Lovely Day" to "Ain't No Sunshine," died from heart complications Monday in Los Angeles, his family told the Associated Press.
Withers' death may not be coronavirus-related, but his legendary "Lean On Me," one of the quintessential songs about sharing burdens, has been used during the current crisis to bring some light, with health care workers among those turning to the song. North Texas NPR station KERA captured socially distanced apartment dwellers taking inspiration from Italy and sharing the song out apartment windows.
Withers recorded his last album in 1985, leaving the music industry behind after becoming disenchanted with the business side. His daughter Kori is also a singer who has been known to cover her dad's songs, including "Ain't No Sunshine." Watch them sing an unreleased song together in a hotel lobby in the 2009 Withers documentary Still Bill:
Withers was a longtime Angeleno. After being discharged from the Navy, he moved to L.A. and worked at an aircraft parts factory. He started recording demos to try landing a record contract, signing his first deal in 1971.
"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," Withers' family said in a statement. "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."
Enjoy more of his music below and, though you can't do it physically during these socially distanced times, lean on one another — so we can all get by.