Bill Withers, the legendary soul singer of the 1970s who made hits Ain’t No Sunshine and Lean On Me has died from heart complications aged 81, his family said.
His family told the Associated Press that the acclaimed hitmaker died on Monday in Los Angeles. He was described as a “solitary man with a heart driven to connect to the world”.
“He spoke honestly to people and connected them to each other,” the statement said.
Renowned for his smooth baritone vocals and sumptuous soul arrangements, Withers penned some of the 70s best-remembered songs, including Just The Two Of Us, Lovely Day and Use Me.
“We are devastated by the loss of our beloved, devoted husband and father,” said his family.
“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.”
His passing comes as his signature song Lean On Me has recently become associated with the Coronavirus pandemic, with many people posting their own versions to support health workers and other essential services.
Although he stopped recording in 1985, his songs remained a major influence on R&B and hip-hop culture.
His track Grandma’s Hands was sampled on Blackstreet’s No Diggity, and Eminem reinterpreted Just The Two Of Us on his hit 1997 Bonnie And Clyde.