Thursday, May 30, 2024

The Great Bill Withers, Dead at 81, Singer Songwriter of “Lean on Me,” “Ain’t No Sunshine,” Winner of 4 Grammy Awards


The great R&B singer-songwriter Bill Withers has died at age 81. Literally, ain’t no sunshine when he’s gone.

Withers’ long list of classic hits includes “Lean on Me,” “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Grandma’s Hands,” “Use Me,” “Just the Two of Us,” “Lovely Day.”

Bill’s family issued a statement. He is survived by his wife Marcia Johnson and their two children, Todd and Kori. The family statement reads:

“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. 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, who was very much a loner in the music world, was married twice. His first wife was the gorgeous Denise Nicholas, of “Room 222” fame. They had a tempestuous one year marriage when each was at the top of their fame.

Bill won 4 Grammy Awards. His last one, in 1987, was 15 years after “Lean on Me” came out. But Club Nouveau had covered the classic, and it won Best R&B song.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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