Making WAVES For Black History Month: Bill Withers

Bill Withers was the youngest of six children. He grew up in the small coal-mining town of Slab Fork, West Virginia. He enlisted with the United States Navy at the age of 18 and served for nine years, during which time he became interested in singing and writing songs.

Discharged from the Navy in 1965, he relocated to Los Angeles in 1967 to begin a musical career. Withers worked as an assembler for several different companies, including Douglas Aircraft Corporation, while recording demo tapes with his own money, shopping them around and performing in clubs at night. When he debuted with the song “Ain’t No Sunshine” he refused to resign from his job because of his belief that the music business was a fickle industry.

Bill Withers performed and recorded for only about 15 years, from 1970 to 1985 but he has made invaluable contributions to the American Songbook including “Lean on Me,” “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Use Me,” “Just the Two of Us,” “Lovely Day,” and “Grandma’s Hands.”

He’s a three time Grammy winner and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015. His life was the subject of the 2009 documentary film Still Bill.

Segment 1 – Bill Withers and his daughter Kori talk about Bill’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Segment 2 – Bill talks technology and how it has affected the music industry.

Segment 3 – Bill Withers hasn’t performed live in public for over thirty years. He explains why he’s happy with his life just the way it is.

Segment 4 – Bill Withers is a very funny guy. We talked about his sense of humor and a really cruel pratical joke he played on the USC football team.

Segment 5 – Bill talks about one of his favorite subjects: his family.

Segment 6 – Bill shares stories behind some of his most popular songs.

More from Pat Prescott

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