“Ain’t No Sunshine” singer Bill Withers has passed away from heart complications. He was 81 years old.
Withers’s family confirmed their loved one’s passing in a statement and indicated that they are “devastated by the loss.” At the time of this writing, Withers’s family and team hadn’t publicly revealed plans for a memorial, which may be affected by the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. A native of West Virginia, Bill Withers died in Los Angeles; California Governor Gavin Newsom instituted a statewide lockdown on March 19th and has advised against large events.
Following a near-decade-long stretch in the United States Navy, Bill Withers made his way to Los Angeles to pursue a career in music. Working to support himself while pitching his demos to executives, Withers rose to prominence with Just as I Am and, specifically, “Ain’t No Sunshine.” (The latter brought Withers his first Grammy Award, for Best R&B Song, at the 14th annual awards ceremony in 1972.) Many of Withers’s other tracks, including “Lean on Me,” “Lovely Day,” and “Use Me,” to name some, subsequently achieved widespread popularity.
Withers released his final studio album, Watching You Watching Me, in 1985, at which point he refused to sign with a new record label and effectively retired from recording new music. Besides securing nine Grammy nominations (and winning three Grammys), Withers was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.
On social media, Chance the Rapper, Lenny Kravitz, Khalid, and others offered kind words and paid their respects to Withers.
The music community has parted with a number of well-known and extremely talented artists and figures during the last couple weeks. Country-music mainstay Kenny Rogers and The Shining composer Krzysztof Penderecki perished from natural causes and an undisclosed condition, respectively. Additionally, country star Joe Diffie, “Stacy’s Mom” creator Adam Schlesinger, and legendary jazz guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli died from novel coronavirus complications this week.