Today we will tell you interesting facts about the singer/songwriter Bill Withers:
(Photo: Gilles Petard)
1. He was born on July 4, 1938 in West Virginia, USA, as William Harrison "Bill" Withers Jr.
2. He was the youngest of six children and was born with a stutter that as a child made it difficult for him to integrate socially.
3. At the age of 18 he enlisted to the U.S. Navy and served there for 9 years, during which time he overcame his stuttering and became interested in music and writing.
4. In 1965 he was discharged from the Navy and in 1967 moved to Los Angeles in search of a musical career.
5. Concurrent with attempts to succeed musically and perform in local clubs, he worked as an assembler of mechanical parts at companies such as Douglas Aircraft Corporation, IBM and Ford.
6. In the early 1970s, he signed his first recording contract with "Sussex Records" and in 1971 released his debut album "Just As I Am" which included the hits "Ain't No Sunshine" and "Grandma's Hands".
7. The album was produced by Booker T. Jones who also played guitar and keyboards. Another famous artist who played on the album is none other than Stephen Stills.
8. The album cover was photographed outside Bill's workplace during the break while Bill was holding his lunch box.
9. Despite the success Withers still did not believe he could make a living from music and continued to work in the factory.
10. The album was included in Rolling Stone magazine's 500 greatest albums album of all time and the song "Ain't No Sunshine" from the album entered the magazine's top 500 songs list.
11. In 1972 Bill won his first Grammy for the song "Ain't No Sunshine". Later he will be nominated for another 6 awards of which he will win two.
12. In the same year he released his second album “Still Bill” which included among others the hit “Still Bill” and became his most successful album in the US.
13. Later Bill got into a legal dispute with the record company that did not allow him to release albums. During this time he collaborated with musicians James Brown, Etta James and B.B. King, and also appeared with them in 1974 in a show called "When We Were Kings".
14. In 1976 he was released from his contract with "Sussex Records" and signed with "Columbia".
15. But the problems did not stop and "Columbia" tried to intervene with Bill's creative side preventing him from releasing some of the songs he wrote.
16. The problems and frictions forced Withers to concentrate on collaborating with other artists, thus was born, among other things, the song "Just the Two of Us" performed together with jazz saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. The song earned Bill his second Grammy.
17. In 1985 Withers released his eighth and final album "Watching You, Watching Me" after which he left the record company Columbia after years of conflict.
18. In the following years he concentrated on creating re-arrangements of his songs. At the same time he continued to perform and stated that he did not regret she is not recording anymore.
19 In 2007 his song “Lean On Me” entered the Grammy Hall of Fame and in 2015 he entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
20. He passed away as a result of heart complications on March 3, 2020 and is 81 years old.