Bill Withers, the legendary soul singer behind classics like “Lean On Me,” “Lovely Day” and “Ain’t No Sunshine,” has passed away. According to the Associated Press, the three-time Grammy Award winner died in Los Angeles on Monday (March 30) after suffering heart complications. He was 81 years old.
“We are devastated by the loss of our beloved, devoted husband and father,” a statement from Withers’ family reads. “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.”
The news arrives amidst the Coronavirus, which has inspired several healthcare workers, choirs and artists to sing and share their own renditions of “Lean On Me,” a nod to the song’s powerful message of community and kindness during the pandemic.
Withers was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015 by Stevie Wonder. His hits were often sampled and covered in hip hop, such as BlackStreet’s 1996 classic “No Diggity,” Will Smith’s rendition of “Just The Two Of Us,” the Black Eyed Peas’ “Bridging The Gap,” Kanye West’s “Roses,” Twista’s 2004 single, “Sunshine” and more.
Additionally, Withers’ “Lean On Me” was the title inspiration for the 1989 film Lean On Me, which starred Morgan Freeman. “Lean On Me” was also inducted into the Grammys Hall of Fame in 2007.
Countless artists and celebrities remembered Wither’s impact and legacy on Twitter, with Juicy J writing, “R.I.P. Bill Withers. Super Legend.”
Withers is survived by his wife Marcia and his children Todd and Kori. See some reactions to his passing below.
R.I.P. Bill Withers Super Legend— juicy j (@therealjuicyj) April 3, 2020
Bill Withers... you will be missed, but not forgotten.— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) April 3, 2020
I remember always singing “Ain’t no sunshine” “Use Me” and “Lean On Me” growing up with my family.
We will sing it forever in my house. ❤️ https://t.co/6aWOkIJrzA
The world lost a legend. Soul singer Bill Withers' song Grandma's Hands is one of my favorites and reminds me of my grandmother and so many other mother-figures in my life.— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) April 3, 2020
Let's all continue to live by his cherished lyrics during these times and lean on each other.