Los Angeles, April 3 (IANS) Soul legend Bill Withers is no more. He passed away at the age of 81 on Friday of heart complications, according to a statement issued by his 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. 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,” read the statement.
Withers’ was an influential voice that inspired an entire generation of soul, RnB, blues and funk singing with hits such as “Lovely day”, “Ain’t no sunshine”, and “Lean on me” among numerous others.
Born on July 4 1938, Withers was the youngest among six children. He was raised by his mother and grandmother after his father died when he was around six years old. Unlike most musicians, his entry into the world of showbiz happened rather late — at the age of 29, reports bbc.com.
Despite enjoying popularity through most of his career, Withers chose to retire in the mid-’80s. He had mostly been a recluse since then.
In 2009, his life inspired the documentary “Still Bill” and Withers was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.
The American music industry expressed grief at his demise. Among the first to convey condolences was rocker Lenny Kravitz. “Rest in power Bill Withers. Your voice, songs, and total expression gave us love, hope, and strength. My soul always has & always will be full of your music. Your humility displayed & depth of your power as you carried us all to a better place. You’re still & always will be Bill,” he wrote.
Actor-musician Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote: “Rest In Peace, maestro Bill Withers. What a legacy.” Chance the Rapper said Withers “was really the greatest”, while Chic’s Nile Rodgers described him as “class, class and more class.”
Withers is survived by his wife Marcia Johnson and their two children, Todd and Kori.