His death is attributed to heart complications
Veteran soul singer Bill Withers passed away on Monday due to heart complications, his family have announced today. He was 81 years old.
Born William Harrison Withers Jr on 4 July 1938, Withers grew up in West Virginia and began writing songs during a nine-year stint in the US Navy, which he joined at the age of 18. On leaving the Navy he moved to Los Angeles with a view to pursuing a career in music, and was soon signed to Sussex Records, who recruited Booker T Jones (of Stax legends Booker T & The MGs) to produce his debut album, 1971's Just As I Am.
He went on to record six more studio albums, first for Sussex Records and later for Columbia, in the years up to 1978, scoring his biggest international hit with 1977 single Lovely Day. Among his other best-known tracks were Just The Two Of Us (recorded with Grover Washington Jr), Ain't No Sunshine, Lean On Me, Use Me and Grandma's Hands.
A dispute with Columbia, however, meant his next album Watching You Watching Me wasn't released until 1985, after which he pretty much retired from music. He won three Grammys during his career, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015. A feature-length documentary about his life, Still Bill, was released in 2009.
He is survived by his wife Marcia and their two children. The statement issued by the family today 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."