Legendary soul singer-songwriter Bill Withers has passed away at age 81. The powerful voice behind songs such as "Lean On Me," "Ain't No Sunshine," and "Lovely Day," Withers died of heart complications in Los Angeles on Monday.
"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,” a statement from Withers' family reads, per the Associated Press. “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."
He wrote his first hit, 1971's "Ain't No Sunshine," when he was 33 years old working as part of an aircraft assembly line. The song would later go on to win Best Rhythm & Blues Song at the Grammy Awards the very same year. In his lifetime, Withers won a total of three Grammys, while he received four other nominations. Withers had a string of hits in the '70s, but he effectively left the music industry in the mid-1980s. His songs have gone on to be covered by over 250 artists since.
Withers is survived by his wife, Marcia, and his two children, Todd and Kori. R.I.P.