Remembering Bill Withers: 1938-2020

Questlove, Flying Lotus, Chance the Rapper, Kacey Musgraves, Flea, and many others on the passing of the soul giant.

During this ongoing cycle of unfortunate news around the world, we were just dealt another crushing loss. Soul icon Bill Withers passed away from heart failure at the age of 81. Although he retired from music decades ago—his last album was 1985’s Watching You Watching Me—his legacy grew stronger every year, with his influence transcending musical generations. The sheer soul, humanity, wisdom, and emotion in classic songs including “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Lovely Day,” “Grandma’s Hands,” “Just the Two of Us,” and “Use Me” will inspire forever. Even in recent days, his track “Lean on Me” has emerged as a moving anthem during the the coronavirus pandemic, with people posting their own versions to support health workers.

When he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2015, Withers famously said “I wouldn’t know a pop chart from a Pop-Tart,” yet a legion of artists on the pop charts and beyond certainly were moved by him. Here’s a sampling of responses on the news of his passing from the music world.


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