Legendary “Lean On Me” Singer, Bill Withers, Dies At 81

photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images

Bill Withers, the legendary singer who not only sang, but also wrote and a slew of songs in the 1970s that we still hear now, either as the original hits or as samples for some of today’s greatest hip-hop songs. like “Lean on Me,” “Lovely Day”, “Just the Two of Us” and “Ain’t No Sunshine,” has died this week from heart complications, his family said in a statement to The Associated Press. He was 81.

“Ain’t No Sunshine” gave Withers his first gold record, earned him a Grammy, and, with later hits such as “Lean on Me” and “Use Me,” forms the a strong catalog of memorable hits that stand the test of time.

Withers death comes as the public, me personally, has used his music in recent days as a form of inspiration. His song “Lovely Day” in particular speaks to the affirmation we need each day during this pandemic.

Actually, the bravery of Withers to admit that he needed help with others is what allowed him to write “Lean on Me,” maybe the best-known song to friendship and family, released in 1972. The lyrics speak to how we as a people need each other, even more so right now.

If you remember, some of the lyrics go like this:

“Sometimes in our lives we all have pain

We all have sorrow

But if we are wise

We know that there’s always tomorrow

Lean on me, when you’re not strong

And I’ll be your friend

I’ll help you carry on

For it won’t be long

‘Til I’m gonna need

Somebody to lean on…”

“We are devastated by the loss of our beloved, devoted husband and father. 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.”

Celebrities from all over the world have been chiming in on social media to pay their respects.

“Rest in power Bill Withers,” writes Lenny Kravitz on Twitter. “Your voice, songs, and…total expression gave us love, hope, and strength. My soul always has & always will be full of your music. Your humility displayed & depth of your power as you carried us all to a better place. You’re still & always will be Bill.”

“Mourning the loss of my friend and inspiration, Bill Withers,” writes John Legend. “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.”

“RIP Bill Withers!” writes Dwayne Wade “The day our daughter Kaavia James came into this world-“Lovely Day” was our song of choice for her entry into the world. Thank you Bill Withers for creating a song that will forever be apart of our lives  ”

Rest in Peace Bill. We will miss you.

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