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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
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Menagerie

1. Lovely Day

2. I Want To Spend The Night

3. Lovely Night For Dancing

4. Then You Smile At Me

5. She Wants To (Get On Down)

6. It Ain't Because Of Me Baby

7. Tender Things

8. Wintertime

9. Let Me Be The One You Need

x

Track List: Complete Sussex & Columbia Album Masters

Disc 1

1. Harlem

2. Ain't No Sunshine

3. Grandma's Hands

4. Sweet Wanomi

5. Everybody's Talkin'

6. Do It Good

7. Hope She'll Be Happier

8. Let It Be

9. I'm Her Daddy

10. In My Heart

11. Moanin' And Groanin'

12. Better Off Dead

Disc 2

1. Lonely Town, Lonely Street

2. Let Me In Your Life

3. Who Is He (And What Is He To You)?

4. Use Me

5. Lean On Me

6. Kissing My Love

7. I Don't Know

8. Another Day To Run

9. I Don't Want You On My Mind

10. Take It All In And Check It All Out

Disc 3

1. Use Me (Live)

2. Friend Of Mine (Live)

3. Ain't No Sunshine (Live)

4. Grandma's Hands (Live)

5. World Keeps Going Around (Live)

6. Let Me In Your Life (Live)

7. Better Off Dead (Live)

8. For My Friend (Live)

9. I Can't Write Left-Handed (Live)

10. Lean On Me (Live)

11. Lonely Town, Lonely Street (Live)

12. Hope She'll Be Happier (Live)

13. Let Us Love (Live)

14. Medley: Harlem / Cold Baloney (Live)

Disc 4

1. You

2. The Same Love That Made Me Laugh

3. Stories

4. Green Grass

5. Ruby Lee

6. Heartbreak Road

7. Can We Pretend

8. Liza

9. Make A Smile For Me

10. Railroad Man

Disc 5

1. I Wish You Well

2. The Best You Can

3. Make Love To Your Mind

4. I Love You Dawn

5. She's Lonely

6. Sometimes A Song

7. Paint Your Little Picture

8. Family Table

9. Don't You Want To Stay?

10. Hello Like Before

Disc 6

1. Close To Me

2. Naked & Warm

3. Where Are You?

4. Dreams

5. If I Didn't Mean You Well

6. I'll Be With You

7. City Of The Angels

8. My Imagination

Disc 7

1. Lovely Day

2. I Want To Spend The Night

3. Lovely Night For Dancing

4. Then You Smile At Me

5. She Wants To (Get On Down)

6. It Ain't Because Of Me Baby

7. Tender Things

8. Wintertime

9. Let Me Be The One You Need

Disc 8

1. All Because Of You

2. Dedicated To You My Love (Feat. Jerry Knight)

3. Don't It Make It Better

4. You Got The Stuff

5. Look To Each Other For Love

6. Love

7. Love Is

8. Memories Are That Way

Disc 9

1. Oh Yeah!

2. Something That Turns You On (Feat. Phil Perry)

3. Don't Make Me Wait

4. Heart In Your Life

5. Watching You Watching Me

6. We Could Be Sweet Lovers (Feat. Alex Brown)

7. You Just Can't Smile It Away

8. Steppin' Right Along

9. Whatever Happens

10. You Try To Find A Love

x

Track List: 'Bout Love

1. All Because Of You

2. Dedicated To You My Love

3. Don't It Make It Better

4. You Got The Stuff

5. Look To Each Other For Love

6. Love

7. Love Is

8. Memories Are That Way

x

Track List: Naked & Warm

1. Close To Me

2. Naked & Warm

3. Where Are You?

4. Dreams

5. If I Didn't Mean You Well

6. I'll Be With You

7. City Of The Angels

8. My Imagination

x

Track List: Just As I Am

1. Harlem

2. Ain't No Sunshine

3. Grandma's Hands

4. Sweet Wanomi

5. Everybody's Talkin'

6. Do It Good

7. Hope She'll Be Happier

8. Let It Be

9. I'm Her Daddy

10. In My Heart

11. Moanin' And Groanin'

12. Better Off Dead

x

Track List: Just The Two Of Us Bill Withers Best

1. Ain't No Sunshine

2. Lovely Day

3. Lean On Me

5. Who Is He And What Is He To You

6. Use Me

7. I Don't Want You On My Mind

9. I Want To Spend The Night

10. You Try To Find A Love

11. Hello Like Before

12. Grandma's Hands

13. The Same Love That Made Me Laugh

14. Steppin' Right Along

15. Lonely Town, Lonely Street

16. I Don't Know

17. Take It All In And Check It All Out

19. Better Off Dead

20. For My Friend

x

Track List: Just As I Am/Still Bill

1. Harlem

2. Ain't No Sunshine

3. Grandma's Hands

4. Sweet Wanomi

6. Do It Good

7. Hope She'll Be Happier

8. Let It Be

9. I'm Her Daddy

10. In My Heart

11. Moanin' And Groanin'

12. Better Off Dead

13. Lonely Town, Lonely Street

14. Let Me In Your Life

15. Who Is He And What Is He To You

16. Use Me

17. Lean On Me

19. I Don't Know

20. Another Day To Run

21. I Don't Want You On My Mind

22. Take It All In And Check It All Out

x

Track List: Lean On Me

1. Lean On Me

2. Don't Make Me Wait

3. Harlem

5. Lonely Town, Lonely Street

6. Ain't No Sunshine

7. Better Off Dead

8. Another Day To Run

9. I'm Her Daddy

10. Watching You Watching Me

x

Track List: The Ultimate Bill Withers Collection

1. Who Is He (And What Is He To You)

2. Ain't No Sunshine

3. Lovely Day

5. The Best You Can

6. Grandma's Hands

7. I'll Be With You

8. Lonely Town / Lonely Street

9. My Imagination

10. Let Us Love

11. Friend Of Mine

12. The Same Love That Made Me Laugh

13. I Don't Want You On My Mind

14. Make Love To Your Mind

15. Hello Like Before

16. I Want To Spend The Night

17. Oh Yeah!

18. All Because Of You

x

Track List: The Best Of Bill Withers

1. Lovely Day

2. I Want To Spend The Night

3. Let Me Be The One You Need

4. Hello Like Before

5. Tender Things

6. I Wish You Well

7. Ain't No Sunshine

8. Grandma's Hands

9. The Same Love That Made Me Laugh

10. Lean On Me

11. Harlem

12. Use Me

13. Who Is He (And What Is He to You)?

14. You Just Can't Smile It Away

16. Steppin' Right Along

17. You Try To Find A Love

18. My Imagination

x

Track List: Ain’t No Sunshine (Lido Remix) (Single)

1. Ain’t No Sunshine (Lido Remix)

x

Track List: Greatest Hits: Lean On Me

1. Ain't No Sunshine

2. Grandma's Hands

3. Lean On Me

4. Use Me

5. Kissing My Love

6. Who Is He (And What Is He To You?)

7. I Don't Want You On My Mind

8. The Same Love That Made Me Laugh

9. Hello Like Before

10. Lovely Day

11. Let Me Be The One You Need

12. I Want To Spend The Night

13. Steppin' Right Along

14. Whatever Happens

15. Watching You Watching Me

16. Heart In Your Life

17. You Try To Find A Love

18. Just The Two Of Us

x

Track List: Watching You Watching Me

1. Oh Yeah!

2. Something That Turns You On

3. Don't Make Me Wait

4. Heart In Your Life

5. Watching You Watching Me

6. We Could Be Sweet Lovers

7. You Just Can't Smile It Away

8. Steppin' Right Along

9. Whatever Happens

10. You Try To Find A Love

x

Track List: Greatest Hits

2. Use Me

3. Ain't No Sunshine

4. Lovely Day

5. I Want To Spend The Night

7. Lean On Me

8. Grandma's Hands

9. Hello Like Before

10. Who Is He What Is He To You

x

Track List: Making Music

1. I Wish You Well

2. The Best You Can

3. Make Love To Your Mind

4. I Love You Dawn

5. She's Lonely

6. Sometimes A Song

7. Paint Your Little Picture

8. Family Table

9. Don't You Want To Stay?

10. Hello Like Before

x

Track List: +'Justments

1. You

2. The Same Love That Made Me Laugh

3. Stories

4. Green Grass

5. Ruby Lee

6. Heartbreak Road

7. Can We Pretend

8. Liza

9. Make A Smile For Me

10. Railroad Man

x

Track List: Live At Carnegie Hall

1. Use Me (Live)

2. Friend Of Mine (Live)

3. Ain't No Sunshine (Live)

4. Grandma's Hands (Live)

5. World Keeps Going Around (Live)

6. Let Me In Your Life (Live)

7. Better Off Dead (Live)

8. For My Friend (Live)

9. I Can't Write Left-Handed (Live)

10. Lean On Me (Live)

11. Lonely Town, Lonely Street (Live)

12. Hope She'll Be Happier (Live)

13. Let Us Love (Live)

14. Medley: Harlem/Cold Baloney (Live)

x

Track List: Still Bill

1. Lonely Town, Lonely Street

2. Let Me In Your Life

3. Who Is He (And What Is He To You)?

4. Use Me

5. Lean On Me

6. Kissing My Love

7. I Don't Know

8. Another Day To Run

9. I Don't Want You On My Mind

10. Take It All In And Check It All Out

Comments

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Ever count the I Know's?
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dragonlady60 8 8
BILL IS SO AMAZING
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hi baby you on my mind sweetie your meatloaf is all ready for you and me you going to be able to get away for lunch?my friend Paula told me that she should be able to clean a little bit for us she said she would be by at our home at 1pm I called the vna see if they had anyone can help us we grow you and me you Mimi mike see you soon?baby mike your pink lips yes mimi
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Why no mention of Robert Greenidge,th e Steel Pan player.
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actually do...
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You suck
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I luv the o. I had break.O
... ld school way back from
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Love him and the feel you have when you listen to his music
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Say mermaid three times don't speak until you post this three times look at your hand
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love him
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yay
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justinjenny4 9 5
❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤
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awaesaeh
Great station
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One the greatest feel good songs of all time from one America's greatest songwriter/p e r f o r m e r who gave us so many great songs with wisdom, integrity and honesty.
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Cool mutha f'in groove that I've enjoyed for all my days...
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Addicted to all my Oldiesbutgoo d i e s ! ! ! !
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OK !!!!!
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Kiss your left hand post nect 5 songs and your love will come��
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To all those. Which are feeling fatigue. Them that seem . Not getting any better.
The ones,getting ready to give-up!
I WISH YOU WELL........ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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eff all u f*gs...u aint takin this song away from me
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You and I was meant to be together Lupe &Frenchie forever L Y ⚔️❤️❤️⚔️����
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Just the two us you and I .Frenchie❤️⚔
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♫♫
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dragonlady60 8 8
Love Bill and this SONG Alot
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0
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Met bill withers 1973 Jax,fla had to pick him up at airport he was performing atFJC and I was a young hippie college student who worked for school,,was OVER THE MOON to be able to meet him. He was just getting started and had just got married..his songs were all about his new wife. Lovely man(took time to talk to all of us hippies) I'll never forget him (I'm in my 60s now) what a great memory
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:)
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sph01
Why is the stupid Anchorman version of "Use Me Up" playing in my feed (with Will Farrell's voice at the beginning) and showing up as a track I liked? I just want pure original tracks, not remixed or other crap.
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I love al green
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Bill Withers...ti m e l e s s
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I Love All
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jamieb12871
Grew up hearing his ♪…never knew until Pandora™°_° he did soooo much work...
1 of the best ever
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jtny786
Better Off Dead, I always thought this was Bill Withers best song.
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Hey!!!!
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oh my god this song!
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jnickmills0
Good lord this song is amazing.
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MY mf MAN!
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Addicted at least once a day for 6 years and i wish only true fans commented
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Love it!
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andrewkmbl
One of the most important vocalists and musicians of the 20th century. Period.
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Unusually but very effective- damn good music .
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'What a great talent
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Flosstadamas hold up wait a minute maid
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I could listen to this man all day long. So soulful.
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Awesome song!!!
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Ain't no sunshine in this world....jus t don't hear this sound anymore with all the noise out there....cla s s i c
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THERE IS NO MUSIC LIKE THIS ANYMORE
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Music at its greatest. Can't help but get into it.
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Great song love this track
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dragonlady60 8 8
I love this Song ty Bill
Show more

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