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Bill Withers

Songwriter/singer/guitarist Bill Withers is best remembered for the classic "Lean on Me" and his other million-selling singles "Ain't No Sunshine" and "Use Me," but he has a sizable cache of great songs to his credit. Al Jarreau recorded an entire CD of Withers' songs on Tribute to Bill Withers (Culture Press 1998). His popular radio-aired LP track from Still Bill, "Who Is He? (And What Is He to You?)," was a 1974 R&B hit for Creative Source.

Born July 4, 1938, in Slab Fork, WV, Withers was the youngest of six children. His father died when he was a child and he was raised by his mother and grandmother. After a nine-year stint in the Navy, Withers moved to Los Angeles to pursue a music career in 1967. He recorded demos at night while working at the Boeing aircraft company where he made toilet seats. His recording career began after being introduced to Clarence Avant, president of Sussex Records.

Stax Records stalwart Booker T. Jones produced his debut album, Just As I Am (with some co-production by Al Jackson, Jr.), which included his first charting single, "Ain't No Sunshine" that went gold and made it to number six R&B and number three pop in summer 1971 and won a Grammy as Best R&B Song. Its follow-up, "Grandma Hands," peaked at number 18 R&B in fall 1971. The song was later covered by the Staple Singers and received airplay as a track from their 1973 Stax LP Be What You Are. "Just As I Am" featured lead guitar by Stephen Stills and hit number five R&B in summer 1971.

Withers wrote "Lean on Me" based on his experiences growing up in a West Virginia coal mining town. Times were hard and when a neighbor needed something beyond their means, the rest of the community would chip in and help. He came up with the chord progression while noodling around on his new Wurlitzer electric piano. The sound of the chords reminded Withers of the hymns that he heard at church while he was growing up. On the session for "Lean on Me," members of the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band ("Express Yourself," "Loveland") were used: drummer James Gadson, keyboardist Ray Jackson, guitarist Benorce Blackman (co-wrote with Withers "The Best You Can" from Making Music), and bassist Melvin Dunlop. His second gold single, "Lean on Me," landed at number one R&B and number one pop for three weeks on Billboard's charts in summer 1972. It was included on his Still Bill album which went gold, holding the number one R&B spot for six weeks and hitting number four pop in spring 1972. "Lean on Me" has became a standard with hit covers by U.K. rock band Mud and Club Nouveau. "Lean on Me" was also the title theme of a 1989 movie starring Morgan Freeman. Still Bill also included "Use Me" (gold, number two R&B for two weeks and number two pop for two weeks in fall 1972) .

Withers' Sussex catalog also included Bill Withers Live at Carnegie Hall, 'Justments, and The Best of Bill Withers. Withers contributed "Better Days" to the soundtrack of the Bill Cosby 1971 western Man And Boy, released on Sussex. There was a duet single with Bobby Womack on United Artists, "It's All Over Now," from summer 1975.

After a legal battle with Sussex, Withers signed with Columbia Records. Columbia later bought his Sussex masters when the label went out of business. Withers was briefly married actress Denise Nicholas (ABC-TV's Room 222 and the 1972 horror film Blacula) in the early '70s. His releases on Columbia were Making Music ("Make Love to Your Mind," number ten R&B), which hit number seven R&B in late 1975; Naked and Warm; Menagerie ("Lovely Day," a number six R&B hit), which went gold in 1977; and 'Bout Love from spring 1979.

Teaming with Elektra Records artist Grover Washington, Jr., Withers sang the crystalline ballad "Just the Two of Us," written by Withers, Ralph MacDonald, and William Salter. It went to number three R&B and held the number two pop spot for three weeks in early 1981. "Just the Two of Us" was redone with hilarious effect in the Mike Myers movie Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, released in summer 1999. Withers teamed with MacDonald for MacDonald's Polydor single "In the Name of Love" in summer 1984.

Withers' last charting LP was Watching You, Watching Me in spring 1985. He occasionally did dates with Grover Washington, Jr. during the '90s. His songs and recordings have been used as both the source of numerous covers (Aaron Neville's "Use Me") and sampled by a multitude of hip-hop/rap groups. Withers resurfaced in the 21st century, playing concerts, and having his albums reissued in various countries. He is also the subject of the 2010 bio-documentary Still Bill, by filmmakers Damani Baker and Alex Vlack. ~ Ed Hogan, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

The true sound of soylfulness
Wow, I did not realize he wrote all those great songs. Am a big Al Jaeraux ( sp) fan too :0
Can't every get enough of Bill- he sings real life down and dirty. No matter what he can make the struggle into a lovely day
no one can say a day is well played as a heart lays in decay with not a place to stay and every crutch to lean is cast away with love not ment to be when broken lives are shattered like clay under wants of modern societies take on morals left with out a stake in compations embrace and no one will give in when a body makes a plea for the world to abandon it's race to forfeit their loss of grace and help grant each a chance to taste life with out a debate made in haste so all can live free
Aint no Sunshine - used to listen to this in my room and my older brother ruined this song for me when he told me how many times he says i know now I've ruined it for you - sorry
rmbz_88
Music meant to be
rmbz_88
Lean on me
Music with a message
2015 marks the 10 year anniversary of Jazz/ Soul guitarist Raul Midón’s network television debut on The Late Show with David Letterman. He performed the titled track off of his 2005 debut album “State of Mind”. Now you can see Raul Midon in his music video for his hit single “Mi Amigo Cubano” off of his new album Don’t Hesitate. The song was written with the help of Bill Withers. You can watch Raul perform “Mi Amigo Cubano” on YouTube at: http://bit.l y / R M M i a m i g o .
What can you say? Even when the day is terrible Bill makes it a Lovely Day!
May your day be as lovely!
1. Kiss your left hand
2. Say your crushes name
3. Close your hand
4. Pick a day
5. Say your name
6. Post this on 15 other songs and on the day you choose your crush will ask you out.
Love you allways Soul man
Ikr.....��
G'BABY you. Can always lean on me.....you been so strong by yourself i carry if you get tired.
My sun going.to, Shine soon as you get home G.....BABY ,and i know, know that sexy
Lean on me is such a happy song
That's cool you know all the songs @nvcarter76
The BEST IN THE WORLD, period.
rmbz_88
His music makes me so happy!!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
Such wonderful feelings in his voice ! It makes me feel love to!
I love this song.. they mean something to me!!??
Love this song it has some good music and guitar playing.
No one like Marvin Gaye
joy252.gb
I love it keep rollin
Love the way Bill makes me feel
Loved it...never gets old! !!
Use Me/ Lean On Me/ Just The Two Of Us/ Soul Shadows/ Lovely Day/ Lonely Town, Lonely Street... Do I need to keep Goin? Bill SAID IT ALL My favorite artist
Lean on Me
How did he get in and not The Smiths?
lorraine.cun n i n g h a m
Has spanned decades.
dragonlady60 8 8
Bill is a fave....love l y day!
This is a great song when you feel down and need someone to help you get out of trouble or feeling sad. Thanks Bill Withers!
YOU SUCK!
Beautiful words. A true love song. Love Bill!
The way he held his voice ..
I'm not much of a Bill Withers fan but this song right here. This is my s**t.
James brown
You have a chance to beat James. He is good but you can try to get. Him good luck to do it.
sherron_owen s
I'm a huge Bill Withers fan
Great Song!!
Can't get enough of Bill Withers song. I seems reall to me. Not just a singer, Just someone like me LIfe! End of this breaks breaks me down.
Can't get enough of this song. Some time at the end of I may cry. But Call me if you need a friend, Call Mee.. Call MMee.
I remember buying this on 45 vinyl
His voice sounds so familiar. Does anyone know if he is the one singing some of the songs in those hour long Garfield specials that they use to show in primetime. The cartoon Garfield, not the ones created on a computer. Or was that Lou Rawls?
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you started reading this so don't stop. This is soscary put this on at least 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is so scary because it actually works.
Better days ahead.
Makes me App. my Baby.
love the way he made people feel.thank you
Lovely Day.
I'm 55 now lets see here I sure as Hell remember this song here my Mother and my Aunt Francis played him enough may they both rest in peace love You both and I miss You both
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