The beloved singer won three Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.
The three-time Grammy Award winner died on Monday in Los Angeles, per the statement. Throughout his career, he also penned and recorded more timeless songs including “Use Me” and “Just the Two of Us.” Though he retired from the industry in the mid-80s, he was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015 by Stevie Wonder.
The family statement reads:
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. 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.
Originally from Slab Fork, West Virginia, Withers was born the youngest of six children. Earlier in his life, he joined the Navy and spent nine years serving as an aircraft mechanic building toilets before pursuing a career in music, according to Guardian. He officially moved to Los Angeles in 1967 where he took up a job making toilets by day and recording music by night. He was eventually signed to Sussex Records and would later enlist Booker T. Jones to produce Just As I Am (1971). The album featured “Ain’t No Sunshine,” which won his first Grammy for “Best R&B Song.”
As the years passed, Withers signed to Columbia Records and continued to create popular music that included the previously mentioned “Lovely Day.” He also co-wrote and contributed vocals on “Just the Two of Us” alongside Ralph MacDonald and William Salter. His last album was 1985′s Watching You Watching Me.
Withers is survived by his wife, Marcia and children, Todd and Kori.
Robyn Mowatt is a staff writer at Okayplayer where she covers culture, music, and fashion. You can see what's on her mind @robyn_mowatt.