Bill Withers dies: Singer’s hits include Lean On Me and Ain’t No Sunshine

Soul singer Bill Withers, famous for a number of timeless classics such as Lean On Me and Ain’t No Sunshine, has died aged 81.

The three-time Grammy winner, who withdrew from making music in the mid-1980s, died from heart complications, his family said.

His death comes as people across the world have found comfort in his music during the coronavirus pandemic, with healthcare workers, choirs, artists and more sharing their own renditions of Lean On Me to help get through the difficult times.

In a statement, his family 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.

"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 grew up in Slab Fork, West Virginia, and did not begin his professional music career until he was in his early thirties.

He was artist behind a number of hits from the 1970s and ’80s that have stood the test of time, including Lovely Day and Just The Two Of Us.

Lean On Me, an ode to the power of friendship, was performed at the inaugurations of both Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, and, along with Ain’t No Sunshine, is among Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

Lovely Day, notable for its memorable sustained note at the end, was his only song to make the top 10 in the UK.

Although Withers stopped recording in 1985, his songs have lived on and remained a major influence on a number of artists who followed.

His track Grandma’s Hands was sampled on Blackstreet’s No Diggity, while Just The Two of Us was covered by Will Smith in 1997 and sampled by Eminem in his song Bonnie and Clyde in the same year.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015 by Stevie Wonder, saying in his acceptance speech that it was like "a lion opening the door for a kitty kat".

Withers is survived by his wife, Marcia, and children, Todd and Kori.

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(c) Sky News 2020: Bill Withers dies: Singer’s hits include Lean On Me and Ain’t No Sunshine

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