His family said in a statement that the three-time Grammy winner, who retired from music in the mid-1980s, died in Los Angeles on Monday.
His death comes as audiences were inspired by his music during the coronavirus pandemic, with healthcare workers, choirs, artists and more posting their own interpretations on Lean on me to help get through the tough times.
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The statement said, “We are devastated by the loss of our beloved and devoted husband and father. A lonely man with a heart determined to connect with the world at large, with his poetry and music, he spoke honestly to people and connected them to each other. “
He goes on to say that his music belongs to the world forever. In these difficult times, we pray that his music will provide comfort and entertainment while the fans hold dear to their loved ones. “
Withers’ songs during his brief career have become the soundtrack for countless engagements, weddings, and backyard parties.
Lean on me, a hymn to friendship, was played at the inaugurations of Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.
Ain’t No Sunshine and Lean on me are among Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest songs of all time.
© 2020 The Canadian Press