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John Legend is mourning a longtime legend who had inspired him and many others in the music world, soul singer Bill Withers.
The Grammy-wining artist, known for ’70s hits such as “Lean on Me,” “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Lovely Day,” died at age 81 from heart complications on Monday in Los Angeles, multiple reports said on Friday. He is survived by his wife Marcia, and two children.
“Mourning the loss of my friend and inspiration, Bill Withers,” Legend tweeted. “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.”
Legend shared a link to an old YouTube video of him and The Roots performing a cover of Withers’ song “I Can’t Write Left-Handed.”
“This song will always mean so much to me,” he tweeted. “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.”
“Bill and I became friends after he saw this YouTube clip,” Legend continued. “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.”
He added, “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.”
Musician Lenny Kravitz also paid tribute to Withers.
“Rest in power Bill Withers,” he wrote on Instagram. “Your voice, your songs, and your total expression gave us love, hope, and strength. My soul always has and always will be full of your music. Your humility displayed the depth of your power as you carried us all to a better place. You are still and always will be Bill.”
Chance the Rapper tweeted, “Aw man, Bill Withers was really the greatest. Grandma’s Hands, Ain’t No Sunshine, Lean on Me, Use Me Up, Just The Two Of Us and obviously Lovely Day are some of the best songs of all time. My heart really hurts for him, it reminds me of playing records with at my grandma’s house.”
“Your music was/is/always will be medicinal,” Pharrell Williams wrote on Instagram. “Your sound intersected so many styles and influences, the best ingredients to get through rough times and make good times greater. Led by a voice that was as unique as your pen and chord choices. Your advice to so many of us, who were blessed to meet/know you, was sound. You will be missed big brother. Rest with the master now. Continued blessings and favor to your family, love ones and admirers.”
“Lovely Day, Lean On Me, Grandma’s Hands. All Timeless Songs. Thank you for giving us so much,” Nas wrote on Instagram. “Peace Bill Withers.”