Happy Birthday, Bill Withers!
Bill Withers recorded his last song in 1985, but you'll probably still be hearing his music 20 years from now. The soul legend turns 77 years old today (July 4).
Withers had a pretty peculiar start in the music business. He served in the Navy for nine years before moving to Los Angeles to attempt a music career. During the day, Withers worked at assembly companies and at night he would perform gigs at local clubs. He recorded a demo of his biggest, and arguably, his most well-known song, "Ain't No Sunshine," but refused to sign to a record label because of his mistrust of the music industry.
He eventually came around, though. Withers was noticed by Sussex Records owner Clarence Avant and he eventually signed a deal in 1970. When his debut album, Just as I Am, dropped in 1971, "Ain't No Sunshine," the song he'd been sitting on, became an immediate hit.
In 1972, Withers followed "Ain't No Sunshine" with "Lean On Me," a far less gloomy single that gave Withers his first No. 1 hit. "Use Me" was another 1972 hit that reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
But unlike many from the era who carry on with lowkey releases after their prime (Al Green for example), Withers decided to call it quits in 1985 when he released his last album Watching You Watching Me. Fifteen years of work was good enough to usher the soul icon into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this past April.