Legendary soul singer Bill Withers dies aged 81

US soul singer Bill Withers has died aged 81 of heart complications, according to a statement from his family.

The influential musician wrote Lean on Me, Ain't No Sunshine and Lovely Day.

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."

Bill Withers in recent years
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Bill Withers in recent years
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 15: Singer Bill Withers attends the NBA All-Star Bowling Classic at Lucky Strike LA Live on February 15, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 06: Musician Bill Withers attends the Sarcoma-Oma Foundation Comedy Benefit at The Laugh Factory on June 6, 2018 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael S. Schwartz/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 24: Guitarist Ray Parker Jr. (L) and singer Bill Withers attend the 28th Annual Heroes and Legends Awards at Beverly Hills Hotel on September 24, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 18: Bill Withers poses in the winners room with the PRS for Music Special International Award at the Ivor Novello Awards at Grosvenor House on May 18, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 21: Bill Withers pose backstage during the 25th Annual Trumpet Awards at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center on January 21, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 07: Singer-songwriter Bill Withers (R) speaks onstage at a ceremony honoring Music Executive Clarence Avant (L) with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on October 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 01: Co-producer Shlomo Lipetz and Bill Withers attend the soundcheck for Lean On Him- A Tribute To Bill Withers at Carnegie Hall on October 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Bobby Bank/WireImage)

"I'm not a virtuoso, but I was able to write songs that people could identify with. I don't think I've done bad for a guy from Slab Fork, West Virginia," Withers told Rolling Stone in 2015.

Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda was among those of the showbusiness world paying tribute to Withers, calling him "maestro".

Chance The Rapper called him "the greatest".

Withers won three Grammy Awards during his lifetime from seven nominations. His first studio album Just As I Man was released in 1971. It yielded the singles Ain't No Sunshine and Grandma's Hands.

Aint No Sunshine won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in 1972 and sold over one million copies.

Bill Withers, amerikanischer Sänger und Songschreiber, in München, Deutschland 1989. American singer and song writer Bill Withers at Munich, Germany 1989. (Photo by Fryderyk Gabowicz/picture alliance via Getty Images)

His second album Still Bill was released later that same year. The single Lean on Me, from that album, was Withers's second gold single with confirmed sales in excess of three million.

He released eight studio albums, one live album, and number of compilations over the years.

Withers married actress Denise Nicholas in 1973 and they divorced in 1974. In 1976, Withers married Marcia Johnson, and they had two children Todd and Kori.

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