Bill Withers, the man who wrote a string of super-successful, soulful singles throughout the 1970’s – including “Lean on Me” Lovely Day” and “Ain’t No Sunshine” – has died at the age of 81.

The three-time Grammy winner, who withdrew from music in the 1980s, passed away on Monday due to complications stemming from a heart condition. This news comes at a time in our lives when we look to his music for inspiration, with health care workers, choirs, artists, and others creating their own renditions of “Lean on Me” to help get through these difficult times.

“We are devastated by the loss of our beloved, devoted husband and father. A solitary man with a heart driven to connect to the world at large, with his poetry and music, he spoke honestly to people and connected them to each other,” the family statement read. “As private a life as he lived close to intimate family and friends, his music forever belongs to the world. In this difficult time, we pray his music offers comfort and entertainment as fans hold tight to loved ones.”

During his all-too-brief music career, Withers’ songs have become part of the musical fabric of our lives as the soundtracks of countless engagements, weddings, backyard parties, movies and more.

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Photo: annulla