John Legend, Lenny Kravitz and More Celebs Pay Tribute to Bill Withers: 'A Special Human Being'
Withers, whose timeless hits include “Lean on Me,” “Just the Two of Us” and “Ain’t No Sunshine,” died Monday in Los Angeles from heart complications. He was 81.
Musicians, from various genres, paid tribute to Withers on social media after news of his death was made public.
John Legend shared multiple tweets on Friday. “Mourning the loss of my friend and inspiration, Bill Withers. He was such an incredible songwriter and storyteller. I’m so glad he shared his gift with the world. Life wouldn’t be the same without him,” wrote Legend, who previously covered Withers’ “I Can’t Write Left-Handed” with The Roots.
“This song will always mean so much to me. Our performances of it were always epic and emotional. Some of my favorite of my entire musical life. Captain Kirk’s guitar solo was so powerful and dynamic and unpredictable. The first time I ever cried while cutting a vocal was this,” he continued.
Legend also posted an anecdote about how he and Withers kept in contact over the years. “Bill and I became friends after he saw this YouTube clip. His friend Bill Russell (yes that Bill Russell) called him up and told him to check it out. Then he emailed someone who then emailed my manager who then forwarded it to me. He loved our version. My year was made,” the star tweeted. “The way he communicated it was via a long, funny email that I later discovered was a trademark of his. I always looked forward to hearing from him. He always had a great story for me, told with charm and wit and humor. What a special human being.”
Fellow singers, including Lenny Kravitz, Kacey Musgraves, Kid Rock and Chance the Rapper, also expressed their gratitude to Withers for his musical legacy.
TV and film stars, such as Wendy Williams, Jeffrey Wright and Billy Dee Williams, shared snippets of Withers’ hits on Twitter along with loving tributes.
And athletes, including Dwyane Wade and Russell Wilson, as well as politicians posted their condolences.
Withers’ family confirmed his death in a statement to the Associated Press on Friday.
“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 said. “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.”