SA song that invited to sing along was covered countless times: Bill Withers, one of the most influential American soul singers, died at the age of 81, as his family announced on Friday.
According to the Guardian, his wife Marcia Johnson and his family said: “We are deeply dismayed at the loss of our beloved husband and father. A unique man with a heart who communicated with the world through poetry and music – he spoke honestly to people (…) In this difficult time we hope that his music will provide comfort and entertainment when his fans join their loved ones. “
“Billy don’t you run so almost”
Withers wrote some very successful emotional hymns, including “Use Me” and “Lean on Me”. With Grover Washington he recorded “Just the Two of Us”. His most widely known song was “Ain’t No Sunshine.” Withers won three Grammys and entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.
Withers grew up in Slab Fork, West Virginia. After his father’s death, he was raised by his grandmother. In 1971 he dedicated the song “Grandma’s hands” to her, which reads: “She’d say,‘ Billy don’t you run so fast / Might fall on a piece of glass / Might be snakes there in that grass. ’”
After serving in the military, he moved to Los Angeles in 1967 and worked for a toilet seat manufacturer. At night he recorded demos. With his first album “Just As I Am”, which was produced by Booker T Jones, he won his first Grammy for “Ain’t No Sunshine”.
The experiences he brought up in songs like “Lean on Me” with a gentle baritone were about his childhood and youth in Slab Fork, a city that lived from coal mining and community spirit. He was also inspired by hymns and gospel music from his childhood.
Columbia Records later signed him on. His second wife, Marcia Johnson, became his manager. Withers withdrew from the music business relatively early. The documentary “Still Bill” (2009) deals with his reasons for leaving the music career behind.