R&B singer and songwriter Bill Withers died from heart complications on Monday in Los Angeles at the age of 81. His family shared the sad news with 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. 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 singer was born on July 4, 1938 in Slab Fork, VA. At a young age he suffered from speech disability. However, after he enlisted in the Navy at the age of 18, his speech improved. This led him to start singing and songwriting. Nine years later, He was discharged from the Navy (1965).
Withers rose to fame in the 70s at the age of 33 when his Grammy winning single, ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ soared up the charts. Following his success, his hit singles included ‘Use Me’ and ‘Lean on Me’ which won a Grammy Award as best R&B song in 1987. In his memorable collection, also includes ‘Grandma’s Hands,’ ‘Lovely Day’ and ‘Just the Two of Us.’
Although he walked away from music in 1985, his legacy flourished with artists all over who either sampled or covered his songs.
“I feel very flattered that my songs have become part of the American landscape,” Withers told Billboard in 2005. “Probably, I should have been better. But all things considered, I did the best I could.”
He is survived by his second wife Marcia, manager of his publishing companies, and their two children, Todd and Kori.