Music Features

RIP Bill Withers: The King of Soul's Best Songs

Listen to hits like "Ain't No Sunshine" and "Lovely Day."

Bill Withers

Photo by Antidoteusa Kobal Shutterstock

Bill Withers, the singer-songwriter known for classics like "Lean on Me," "Ain't No Sunshine," and" Lovely Day" has died of heart complications.

Withers was 81 at the time of his passing and is survived by his wife, Marcia Johnson, and their two children, Todd and Kori. The family statement reads:

"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. 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."

Withers was primed to sing of heartbreak from an early age, growing up in poverty in West Virginia and enduring the loss of his father at just 13 years old. He got out of West Virginia as soon as he was old enough to join the Navy, where he served for nine years before moving to the San Francisco area. It was there that Withers, in his early 20s, began to learn to play the guitar and sing music. After moving to Los Angeles in 1967, Withers found a job making toilet seats that kept him afloat so he could spend his nights pursuing his real passion: music. Eventually, famed black music executive Clarence Avant took Withers under his wing and signed him to a record deal.

Withers went on to release seven albums in eight years, albums that included hit songs like "Lean On Me" and "Ain't No Sunshine" which quickly became integral parts of American culture. He retired from music in 2009, in part because of ongoing disputes with Columbia records.

When he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2015, Withers said, "I really don't have the personality to do this all the time, I'm not that outgoing. I'm rather shy—I'd rather hide. I never danced. I hid behind the guitar. So it's all life, you know, as long as you're doing something."

Despite this, there is no question that Withers poured his heart and soul into his music. Every song by the late singer is imbued with a depth of feeling and a storytelling ability that helped to define the genre.

Listen to all of his best songs on our Spotify playlist:

Bill Withers - Ain't No


MUSIC MONDAY | Scruffy Pearls Brings us Soul-Pop Sweetness

JUNE 18 | Live Session Video for "Forrest Gump"

THE MIX | What's Old is New Again

by Scruffy Pearls

06.18.18 | This playlist is a mixture of old and new which is also a theme in our own music. We love writing songs that have a familiar timeless feel and melodies but with today's modern twist, instrumentation and production wise. All six of us grew up listening to different music and we have different tastes which allows us as a band to be open to all kinds of ideas and make any type of song our style.

Listen to Scruffy Pearls' song and watch their official live session of "Forrest Gump."

New York is a melting pot and the band Scruffy Pearls proves that music can be just as diverse…even within a band. The six members all have different backgrounds musically, get they've taken their unique sounds, blended them beautifully, and resulted in soul-pop sweetness that's fresh, familiar, fun, and fabulous.

Scruffy Pearls features Carly Brooke on vocals, RJ Gatsby on keys, ukulele, harmonica, and acoustic guitar, Parker McAllister on bass, Renee Hikari on Drums, Billy Pearson on electric guitar, and Adam Abresch on trumpet.

Old-meets-new for a timeless quality that teens can groove to, millennials can move to, and even their parents can approvingly sing along with. Influenced by the likes of Randy Newman, Fleetwood Mac, John Legend, and then some, Scruffy Pearls is making their way around the Big Apple, opening for bands including Lukas Nelson + Promise of the Real, Lawrence, and Parsonsfield.

As they are onto their 2 nd EP, Scruffy Pearls has already caught the attention of movers and shakers in the industry. NBC's Today Show's Jenna Wolfe describes their special sound as, "A beautiful engaging mix of Amy Winehouse and Mumford and Sons that gets me all excited." And Radio Woodstock's DJ MK Burnell raves, "They fill the room with their energy and talent. A killer band!"

Scruffy PearlsScruffy

Six = success for this multi-genre group. They share their engaging and eclectic style in this powerful playlist, mixing classic with current, keeping it cool with every song selection.

Follow Scruffy Pearls on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Periscope

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