His death has shocked the music world and his fans equally, but his music will continue to be alive in the hearts of many.
Bill Withers, known for his smooth baritone vocals and soulful 70s songs like Lean on Me, Lovely Day and Ain’t No Sunshine passed away at the age of 81, according to the Associated Press. His family stated that the singer died of heart complications on 30 March, 2020 in Los Angeles.
“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,” read the statement released by the family, according to the Associated Press.
“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," stated the family.
Bill Withers is survived by his wife, Marcia, and children, Todd and Kori.
Though the three-time Grammy Award winner stopped recording music in 1985, his work left a lasting impression in the lives of people across generations. His songs like Just The Two Of Us, Use Me are still one of the most loved songs from the 70s and have become part of countless parties, weddings, and engagements. Lean on Me, a paean to friendship was also performed at the inaugurations of both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
Moreover, his songs became a major influence in the world of hip-hop and R&B, according to the BBC. Rapper Eminem made a cover of Just The Two Of Us on his hit 1997 Bonnie And Clyde. In addition to that, his songs are still among Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
His death comes at a time when his popular hit, Lean On Me served as a motivation during the coronavirus pandemic. Thousands of people across the world, including health care workers, choirs, artists posted their own versions of the song to help each other through this difficult phase.
The news of his death has shocked the music industry. Many took to social media to share their condolences and thoughts about the legendary singer. "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," said singer and actor, Lenny Kravitz, according to USA Today.
"Aw man, Bill Withers was really the greatest. Grandma’s Hands, Ain’t No Sunshine, Lean on Me, Use Me Up, Just The Two Of Us and obviously Lovely Day are some of the best songs of all time. My heart really hurts for him, it reminds me of playing records with at my grandma’s house," wrote Chance, The Rapper on Twitter, according to USA Today.
Fans too shared their pain of losing the legend. They paid tribute to him by performing his music and talking about how his songs changed their lives.