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.
RIP Bill Withers. What a voice and story.
— FLYLO (@flyinglotus) April 3, 2020
This news is super devastating. Just this week alone losing Vaughn Mason, Ellis Marsalis, Manu Dibango, & Wallace Rooney….was painful but Bill Withers man….this guy was my FIRST idol before The Jackson 5ive or… https://t.co/b8Lf1rI3sH
— ?NG Shamen (@questlove) April 3, 2020
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
— Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) April 3, 2020
Fly high Bill Withers- the greatest of all time. This world didn’t deserve you. ?? side note- his drummer James Gadson is also a legend and I was lucky enough to have him play on my upcoming album. pic.twitter.com/DCC1CxASMI
— Margo Price (@MissMargoPrice) April 3, 2020
— Alicia Keys (@aliciakeys) April 3, 2020
Shout out to the magic of recorded music. Imagine if the transcendent Bill Withers died and we never heard his voice again
— Flea (@flea333) April 3, 2020
So many magical songs. How lucky we were to have him in the world. https://t.co/ooXtILQ411
— Jason Isbell (@JasonIsbell) April 3, 2020
RIP BILL WITHERS
— Timbaland (@Timbaland) April 3, 2020
I’m very sad to hear about Bill Withers passing. Bill was a “songwriter’s songwriter” and wrote so many great songs like “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Lean On Me.” A real loss. Love & Mercy to Bill’s family. – Brian pic.twitter.com/dUGAre6Bjt
— Brian Wilson (@BrianWilsonLive) April 3, 2020
Mr. Lean On Me Bill Withers changed frequencies! We have Lost Another Great One! Our prayers go out to his family & friends! His songs should always be in the Time Capsule of Love & Unity! What a Brilliant Man!?Thx u for ur Gifts. R.I.P. Bootsy baby!!!? @TheWithersBill @CNN pic.twitter.com/4EeTpKD1ZE
— Bootsy Collins (@Bootsy_Collins) April 3, 2020
RIP Bill Withers ?
— K A C E Y (@KaceyMusgraves) April 3, 2020
Rest In Peace, maestro Bill Withers.
What a legacy.https://t.co/GBImqLRdPh
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) April 3, 2020
One of the greatest vocalists and songwriters ever. Love u Mr Withers https://t.co/wzbxsNCRHc
— Mark Ronson (@MarkRonson) April 3, 2020
Bill Withers was such a liekeable guy. Always loved that he was from Slab Fork, WV. Check out doc “Still Bill” my friend Alex Vlack made couple years ago it’s great.
— Hamilton Leithauser (@HLeithauser) April 3, 2020
— Nile Rodgers (@nilerodgers) April 3, 2020
RIP Bill Withers… that’s a really sad one. Such a unique amazing musician and song writer.. thanks for everything Bill….
— nigel godrich (@nigelgod) April 3, 2020
RIP BILL WITHERS
One of my biggest heroes. Everyone of his songs had such wisdom and kindness and he sang them all with truth and beauty. I always imagined that God's voice it would sound a lot like Bill's. Huge Loss RS pic.twitter.com/SiogrkTnEN
— Ron Sexsmith (@RonSexsmith) April 3, 2020
rest in peace bill withers
— Open Mike Eagle (@Mike_Eagle) April 3, 2020
— Chuck D (@MrChuckD) April 3, 2020
Mourning the loss of my friend and inspiration, Bill Withers. He was such an incredible songwriter and storyteller. I'm so glad he shared his gift with the world. Life wouldn't be the same without him.
— John Legend (@johnlegend) April 3, 2020
Sad news today about the passing of #BillWithers. One of my first hits was a recording of “Ain’t No Sunshine”, a perfect song. I was very fortunate to meet him and he was so gracious. My thoughts are with his family today. RIP pic.twitter.com/wNDp0UGi0w
— Boney James (@boneyjames) April 3, 2020
Bill Withers gave us the gift of "Lean on Me" and countless other songs, which have brightened our days for decades. We will forever treasure his sacred music and memories like this: performing his famous tune with @josejamesmusic at @PresHall ❤️https://t.co/ZiFX4LFvwG
— Preservation Hall Jazz Band (@preshallband) April 3, 2020