William Harrison Withers, Jr.—better known as Bill Withers—is a singer-songwriter from Slab Fork, West Virginia. Known for his warm voice and positive disposition, he has been a popular soul and R&B singer for well over 35 years. Withers was born on Independence Day, 1938, the youngest of six kids in small town West Virginia. He joined the Navy as an 18 year old and started writing songs soon after he left in 1965.
Bill Withers moved to Los Angeles to follow his dream of being a musician and quickly wrote what would become one of his biggest hits, "Ain't No Sunshine." Withers signed with Sussex Records and released his debut, Just As I Am, in 1971. The record was quite successful, sneaking its way into the Billboard Top 40. Besides the soulful "Ain't No Sunshine" (which netted him his first Grammy), it also featured popular songs like "Grandma's Hands" and "Do It Good." It also featured a cover of the Beatles classic, "Let It Be." Withers followed it up quickly, dropping his second album, Still Bill, just a year later. It was also a huge success, yielding him his first No. 1 single, "Lean on Me."
Bill Withers switched from Sussex to Columbia in 1975, and he released his first album with the major label that year. Making Music, Making Friends did not reach the commercial heights of his earlier albums, though it was well-received by his fans. He would only release four more albums for the label, as his run ended with 1985's Watching You, Watching Me. Though he only made eight studio albums in his career, Withers often collaborated with other artists. Notably, the single "Just The Two of Us" with Grover Washington was a monster hit in 1981. He also recently worked on a few tracks off Jimmy Buffet's 2004 album License To Chill.
After Watching You, Watching Me, Withers stopped making studio albums and touring, choosing to spend more time with his wife and children. In 2005, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York City, while his famous "Lean On Me" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2007. Withers settled in Los Angeles, and he even recently made an appearance at a University of Southern California football practice to lead the team in song.