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Bill Withers, Hall of Fame Soul Singer, Dead at 81

Mellifluous vocalist behind “Lean on Me,” “Lovely Day” and “Ain’t No Sunshine” succumbs to heart complications

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Andy Greene Apr 03, 2020

Bill Withers, the mellifluous vocalist behind "Lean on Me," "Lovely Day" and "Ain't No Sunshine," has died at age 81. Photo: Gilles Petard/Redferns/Getty Images

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Bill Withers, the soul legend who penned timeless songs like “Lean on Me,” “Lovely Day” and “Ain’t No Sunshine,” has died from heart complications according to a statement from his family. He was 81.

“We are devastated by the loss of our beloved, devoted husband and father,” his family said in a statement. “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 read. “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 grew up in Slab Fork, West Virginia and didn’t begin his professional career until he was in his was in his early thirties. But after just a handful of albums, he walked away from the business and lived a deeply private life. “What few songs I wrote during my brief career, there ain’t a genre that somebody didn’t record them in,” he told Rolling Stone in 2014. “I’m not a virtuoso, but I was able to write songs that people could identify with. I don’t think I’ve done bad for a guy from Slab Fork, West Virginia.”

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