Bill Withers

Born on July 4th, 1938 in a small mining community in West Virginia, Bill Withers started writing songs and singing during a nine year stint serving in the United States Navy. When he left in 1965, he moved to Los Angeles to launch his music career, working in a factory making toilet seats for 747 aeroplanes by day, singing in clubs and recording demos by night. He was eventually signed by Sussex Records, releasing his first album, Just As I Am, in 1971 with Booker T. Jones as producer and Stephen Stills playing guitar. The track that ensured its success, though, was “Ain't No Sunshine”, a song he was inspired to write after watching Days of Wine and Roses, a movie about two alcoholics. Originally released as a B-side to the single “Harlem”, “Ain't No Sunshine” ultimately went to number three in the Billboard Hot 100 and is now recognised as a classic. Withers had a number one with “Lean On Me” from his next album, Still Bill, and the infectious melodies of his songs have proved timeless; they have been covered extensively and used in many movie soundtracks. His biggest UK hit was the feel-good “Lovely Day”, reaching number seven in 1977 and number four when re-released eleven years later. Withers died in LA of a heart condition on March 30th, 2020 at 81 years of age, leaving behind a plethora of accolades including three GRAMMY Awards and an homage in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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