Legendary soul singer/songwriter Bill Withers died on Monday (March 30) due to heart complications, per a statement provided to the Associated Press. He was best known for hits like “Lean On Me,” “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Use Me,” “Lovely Day” and more. Withers was a three-time Grammy winner and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.
“We are devastated by the loss of our beloved, devoted husband and father,” his family wrote in a statement. “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 was born in Slab Fork, West Virginia in 1938 and was the youngest of six children. He joined the Navy at age 17, spending nine years there, and later moved to Los Angeles after he was discharged. After signing a record contract, he released his first album, Just As I Am, in 1971, which contained one of his greatest songs—“Ain’t No Sunshine”—and was produced by another soul giant, Booker T. Jones (of Booker T. & the M.G.’s). A year later, he released his second album, Still Bill, which contained lasting hits like “Lean On Me” and “Use Me” and became his highest charting album, reaching number four on the Billboard 200. Withers continued to record throughout the 1970s, but by the mid-1980s, he stepped away from music.
Withers is survived by his wife, Marcia, and children, Todd and Kori.
Listen to an interview with Withers from 1988 via the Paste vault below. Scroll down to hear an incredible performance of “Ain’t No Sunshine.”