Music News: Bill Withers fondly remembered


Bill Withers, the soul legend who wrote and sang 'Lean On Me,' has died at 81, and artists from across the music world are paying tribute. Meanwhile, Adam Sandler comes through with a charming 'Quarantine Song.' (MPR Video)

Bill Withers, the soul legend best known for his classic song "Lean On Me," has died. His family cited heart complications as the cause of his death at age 81.

Despite his long life and numerous beloved songs, Withers actually had a fairly short career. After growing up in West Virginia coal-mining country and serving nine years in the Navy, he released his debut album in 1971. "Ain't No Sunshine" became a breakout hit, landing in the top five despite originally being released as a B-side. The song captured the warm yet longing quality that would keep listeners coming back.

His second album, 1972's Still Bill, became his most iconic collection, featuring "Lean On Me" and "Use Me." His unassuming vocal power was captured that year in a Carnegie Hall recording that was released in 1973 and is now considered one of the all-time great live albums.

Withers's career was never quite the same, though, after his original label Sussex went bankrupt and he signed to Columbia. Although he released memorable songs over the following decade — notably the Grover Washington Jr. duet "Just the Two of Us," from 1980 — his commercial success was more modest, and he stepped away from music entirely in the mid 1980s.

Artists and fans have been paying tribute to Withers all day. One example is Lenny Kravitz, who wrote, "Your voice, songs, and total expression gave us love, hope, and strength. My soul always has & always will be full of your music. Your humility displayed & depth of your power as you carried us all to a better place." (The Current)

Learn music from metal legends

Megadeth bassist (and Minnesota native) David Ellefson is launching a new initiative to help kids stuck at home to take free music lessons from members of famous metal bands. Musicians who've played with artists including Anthrax, Guns N' Roses, and Alice Cooper are on board for the program, aptly called School's Out. In a statement, Ellefson said, "When one person suffers, we all suffer, and this is an unprecedented moment in history when all of us around the world are united for a common cause." Interested students can apply now. (Consequence of Sound)

Adam Sandler comes through with a charming "Quarantine Song"

Adam Sandler may not be your first idea of who to turn to for solace during a public health crisis, but the actor and comedian behind classics like "The Chanukah Song" and "The Thanksgiving Song" came through with a very charming "Quarantine Song" that he debuted on The Tonight Show. (Stereogum)

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