Singer-songwriter Bill Withers, the soulful crooner behind hits including “Lean On Me,” “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Lovely Day," has died, The Associated Press reported Friday. He was 81.
In a statement obtained by the AP, Withers’ family said the three-time Grammy Award winner died Monday in Los Angeles from heart complications. “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,” the family statement 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.” Withers worked as an aircraft mechanic in the U.S. Navy before recording his first hit, “Ain’t No Sunshine," in 1971. He was 33 at the time. He followed his emotional debut with a string of high-charting hits, including “Lean On Me,” “Use Me,” and “Just the Two of Us.” Over the course of his just 14-year recording career, he won three Grammy Awards for Best Rhythm and Blues Song and was nominated for four others. In 2015, famed musician Stevie Wonder inducted him into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. “I’ve always felt that Bill Withers’ songs were songs that were for every single culture there is," Wonder said during the induction ceremony. "When I think of ‘Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone,’ I said, 'I wish I could’ve written that song.” Withers put out his last album, “Watching You Watching Me” in 1985. The Associated Press contributed to this report.