The American singer Bill Withers, one of the greatest soul voices, to whom we owe world famous titles like Ain’t No Sunshine or Lean On Me, died of heart complications at the age of 81, his family announced Friday.
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“We are devastated by the loss of our adored and devoted husband and father”, she wrote in a statement, citing “A lonely man” However “Connected to the world through its poetry and music”.
“He spoke honestly to people and brought them closer to each other”, added his relatives. “Although he lived discreetly with his close family and friends, his music belongs to the whole world forever. In this difficult time, we pray that his music will provide comfort and entertainment while his fans take care of those they love. “
Tributes from his peers
“He was an incredible writer and storyteller”wrote singer John Legend on Twitter about his “Friend and inspirer”. “Life would not be the same without him”.
His warm and powerful voice will have marked several generations, even if the man withdrew very early from the scene, from the mid-1980s, when he was not yet 50 years old, saying he was disgusted by the music industry.
“My soul will always be filled with your music”, tweeted singer Lenny Kravitz in tribute to an artist whose voice and songs “Gave us love, hope and strength”.
Bill Withers has also been sampled very regularly by rappers, from 2Pac to Kendrick Lamar, via Snoop Dogg or Eminem. His titles have known an exceptional longevity, marked by a relative melodic simplicity and few artifices.
“He was our Springsteen … Our ordinary man”, wrote the co-founder of the group The Roots, Questlove, authority in musical matters.
Played at the White House and taken over by Michael Jackson
Benjamin of a family of six, Bill Withers grew up in poverty in a mining community in West Virginia. After doing odd jobs and joining the Navy, he went to Los Angeles to get into music.
Despite a relatively short career, over fifteen years, he left behind world famous soul pieces, including Just the Two of Us or Lean On Me, played during the inaugurations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
Ain’t No Sunshine, his most famous soul complaint was taken up by Joe Cocker, Stevie Wonder, Eva Cassidy or Michael Jackson. Three Grammy Award winner Bill Withers entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.