RIP soul genius Bill Withers, dead at 81

Bill Withers was responsible for two the most popular soul songs of the 20th century: “Lean on Me” (1972) and “Ain’t No Sunshine” (1971). The former is also one of the most-covered songs of all time.

Incredibly, this song was originally a B-side to a song called “Harlem.” No one paid attention until a couple of radio DJs flipped the record over. It ended up winning a Grammy for best R&B song.

The son of a coal miner, he joined the navy as a way of following in his father’s footsteps. After a stint in an aircraft factory, he ended up seeing Lou Rawls’ nightclub act. That made him decide to ditch the day job, buy a pawn shop guitar, and start making music of his own.

His other big hit was a collaboration with saxophonist Grover Washington Jr.

Read more about Bill here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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