Legendary Soul Singer Bill Withers Dead at 81

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer died of heart complications

Bill Withers speaks onstage at Reel To Reel: Chuck Berry: Brown Eyed Handsome Man at the GRAMMY Museum on February 24, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for The Recording Academy )
Bill Withers speaks onstage at Reel To Reel: Chuck Berry: Brown Eyed Handsome Man at the GRAMMY Museum on February 24, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for The Recording Academy )
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By Bonnie Stiernberg / April 3, 2020 10:56 am

Bill Withers, the legendary musician who wrote and sang timeless hits like “Lean On Me,” “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Lovely Day,” has reportedly passed away at the age of 81 due to heart complications.

Withers’s family confirmed the news via a statement to the Associated Press, noting that the singer died Monday in Los Angeles.

“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,” the statement reads. “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 possessed an incredible versatility, able to pull off everything from the inspirational “Lean On Me” to the sexy “Use Me” to the political “I Can’t Write Left-Handed,” the latter about an injured Vietnam War veteran. He won Grammys for “Ain’t No Sunshine” in 1971 and “Just The Two Of Us” in 1981, as well as one in 1987 as a songwriter for Club Nouveau’s cover of “Lean On Me.”

He also walked away from the music business in the mid-’80s, turning down countless comeback offers. In 2015, he told Rolling Stone, “What else do I need to buy? I’m just so fortunate. I’ve got a nice wife, man, who treats me like gold. I don’t deserve her. My wife dotes on me. I’m very pleased with my life how it is. This business came to me in my thirties. I was socialized as a regular guy. I never felt like I owned it or it owned me.” That same year, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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

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