Benztown Audio Tribute: Soul Icon Bill Withers Dies at 81


Benztown audio tribute to Bill Withers, singer, songwriter and soul icon whose songs from the 1970s have stood the test of time, including “Lean On Me” “Lovely Day”, “Just the Two of Us” and “Ain’t No Sunshine”. Withers died at age 81 Monday in Los Angeles from heart complications.

Withers, a three-time Grammy Award winner, was born the last of six children in the coal mining town of Slab Fork, West Virginia. After his parents divorced when he was 3, Withers was raised by his mother’s family in nearby Beckley. He joined the U.S. Navy at 17 and spent nine years as an aircraft mechanic.

He moved to Los Angeles after his discharge from the Navy, worked at an aircraft parts factory, bought a guitar at a pawn shop and recorded demos of his songs in hopes of landing a recording contract.

In 1971, signed to Sussex Records, he put out his first album, “Just As I Am,” with the legendary Booker T. Jones at the helm. The album featured the Withers-penned “Ain’t No Sunshine”, which put him on the map, reaching No. 3 on the Billboard charts and spending a total of 16 weeks in the top 40.

After a string of hits in the 70’s, Withers stepped away from his music career in the mid-80’s. In 2015, Withers was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Stevie Wonder. He also was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005.

The Benztown audio tribute to Bill Withers was produced by Scott Mayton, written by Bill Royal, and voiced by Sean Andre. Check the tribute below: