William Harrison “Bill” Withers, Jr. (born July 4, 1938) is an American singer-songwriter and musician who performed and recorded from 1970 until 1985. He recorded a number of major hits, including “Lean on Me”, “Ain’t No Sunshine”, “Use Me”, “Just the Two of Us”, “Lovely Day”, and “Grandma’s Hands”.
Withers’ life was the subject of the 2009 documentary film Still Bill. In April 2015, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Withers was born the youngest of six children in the small coal-mining town of Slab Fork, West Virginia. Raised in nearby Beckley, West Virginia, he was thirteen years old when his father died. Withers enlisted with the United States Navy at the age of 18 and served for nine years, during which time he became interested in singing and writing songs. Discharged from the Navy in 1965, he relocated to Los Angeles in 1967 for a musical career.
Withers worked as an assembler for several different companies, including Douglas Aircraft Corporation, while recording demo tapes with his own money, shopping them around and performing in clubs at night. When he debuted with the song “Ain’t No Sunshine” he refused to resign from his job because of his belief that the music business was a fickle industry.