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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: 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: 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: 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

10. Rosie

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

x

Track List: Ain’t No Sunshine

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

14. Steppin' Right Along

15. Lonely Town, Lonely Street

16. I Don't Know

17. Take It All In And Check It All Out

18. World Keeps Going Around

19. Better Off Dead

20. For My Friend

Comments

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Excellent love music
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My stepdad is Benorce Blackmon he married to my mom for 7 years����
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Love this song !!
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dragonlady60 8 8
Lovely day
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dragonlady60 8 8
I love BILL
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I didn't realize he was a seaman for 9 years. Now I have a new respect for him.
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Loved u all, your songs will live on, you are singing for God now. R.I.P.
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R.I.p Vinny wheels
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Aint no sunshine with Michelle Obama. Valerie Jarrett, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Jeanne Shaheen, Jane Kim, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Diane Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, etc.
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mssunshine19 6 7
This was real music. Makes your heart smile.
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Bill withers one of west Virginia's best
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Don't read this. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Now you've started reading this.Don't stop Reading this is freaky. But if you read this and ignore it it will get bad luck.put this on 15 songs in 143 min.when you're done the press The and your crushes name will appear in big letters on the screen this is so creepy because it actually works
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Funk get summ.love it.we do.
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iPhone purple
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I love this song
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Seriously, Real ,soul satisfying music right here ,my music listening friends:):): ) : ) : ) : ) : )
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What a great artist and one of the greatest song of the great 70s
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��
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What a wonderful world. If we all lean on each other
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Haven't heard this song in ages! Thank you for playing it :)
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:):):):):):) : ) : ) : ) : ) IF ANONYMITY & DISCRETION IS HOW YOU GET DOWN, THEN, WE MAY HAVE SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT:):):): ) : ) : ) JUST SAYING:):):) : ) : )
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Yah, I agree....
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Bill withers one of the best to ever come out of west Virginia
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Don't read this. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of ur life. Tomorrow will be the best day of ur life. Now that u have started reading, don't stop. But if u read this and ignore it you will have very bad luck. Put this on 15 songs in 143 mins. When ur done press the space bar on ur screen and ur crushes name will appear in big bold letters. This is so freaky it actually works
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dragonlady60 8 8
Mermaid 5 times now what lmao
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dragonlady60 8 8
Until u use me Upppppp
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dragonlady60 8 8
SING IT BILLLLLLLLL
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arrowdave6
This is the song O. J.. Simpson killed people to.
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lean on me. will always make me think of my mother and father may they rest in peace.
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sandymcleod1 7 5
❤❤❤❤❤
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Love this song ma type of music bring me memories chow!
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I'm leaning
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Mind blowing artist love his music
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I love Bill withers love to hear him sing lean on me nothing better.
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smith.kywana . k s
Wow
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docweddle
Always makes me cry and happy at the same time�� Bill W
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Leanin'
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I am 13 and this song has been AWESOME since I was 5!!!
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LaVertis-n-J a y m e
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Smoke 1 this!
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Skyburn u must b crazy if u think is even put that comment on 143 songs.
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❤❤❤❤❤
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skpyburn08
keep calm and lean on me when your not strong and I'll be your friend
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Total funk.love it.
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I just think that Bill Withers is my favorite musician in the world.
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Amen!
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Bill rocks!! A master storyteller /singer , hits your soul.
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Untouchable lyrics..Awes o m e groove..
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Smooth and funky for adults only
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mtheodoris5
Always think of that episode of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, with the broke juke box playing this :-)
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