SOUL MUSIC legend Bill Withers has passed away aged 81.
The singer, who was best known for songs like Lean on Me and Ain’t No Sunshine died from heart complications this past Monday, according to a statement from the Withers family
“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,” a statement to The Associated Press said.
“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.”
Born in 1938 as the youngest of six children in Slab, West Virginia, Withers overcame a childhood stutter and the loss of his father at a young age to carve out a career in music.
Stardom came later than most in the industry for Withers, who only hit the big time aged 29, having previously spent nine years in the navy.
A shining example of hard work and determination, Withers taught himself to play guitar while working his day job making toilet seats for the Boeing aircraft company.
He used the money from that job to fund his breakthrough studio sessions in LA.
It was money well spent, with Withers going on to score a string of iconic and instantly recognisable hits.
While Lean On Me and Ain’t No Sunshine might rank among his most famous tracks, other songs like Lovely Day, Use Me, Just The Two Of Us and Grandma’s Hands remain instantly recognisable to millions.
Though he toured occasionally over the past two decades, Withers all but quip the industry following the release of Just The Two Of Us, bowing out at the top of his profession in the process.
A hugely influential musician and family man, Withers is survived by his wife, Marcia, and children, Todd and Kori.