'Ain't No Sunshine' Singer And Grammy Winner Bill Withers Is Dead At 81

The Essential Bill Withers album cover

A musical legend for his various hit singles like “Lean On Me” and “Ain’t No Sunshine”, Bill Withers enhanced the soundtrack of many films, as well as life itself, with his soulful vocals and tight jams. Sadly, the world mourns the loss of his unique voice today, as Withers has passed away at the age of 81, due to heart complications.

Movie fans would know some of Bill Withers’ most iconic works through their inclusion in memorable sequences throughout cinema history. One such moment is, undoubtedly, the usage of “Ain’t No Sunshine” in the following montage from writer Richard Curtis’s rom-com classic Notting Hill:

AP News reported the singer/songwriters’ death this morning, which according to those reports had occurred this past Monday, in Los Angeles. Born in 1938, Bill Withers had a stutter as a child, which he eventually defeated later in life through his service in the U.S. Navy. He’d go on to start his musical career in the ‘60s, while still holding down a day job, and even with his hit “Ain’t No Sunshine”, he’d still hang onto his more grounded profession for some time, afraid the music business would drop him as quickly as it picked him up.

The history of Bill Withers’ music in film stretched as far as the recent past, especially with his song “Lovely Day” being used in some of the most unexpected places. In director Danny Boyle’s 2010 Academy Award nominated film 127 Hours, the track was used in a particularly memorable sequence with James Franco’s portrayal of real life mountaineer Aron Ralston:

Most recently though, that very same song found itself co-opted into Illumination’s hit animated franchise The Secret Life of Pets. Not only was the song itself used in the closing montage for the first film, but the tune inspired the original LunchMoney Lewis song “It’s Gonna Be A Lovely Day”, used in The Secret Life of Pets 2.

Withers’ loss is already being felt by the entertainment world at large, as Hamilton and In The Heights creator Lin-Manuel Miranda took to Twitter to pay tribute to the late recording artist in the following tweet:

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This passing is another huge hit to the world of music this week, with That Thing You Do songwriter Adam Schlesinger and Jazz legend Ellis Marsalis Jr. both passing within this same span of time. Though they have passed on, their music will live on forever in the hearts of their fans. And you can bet that Bill Withers’ legendary musical catalog will continue to be used as the inspiration for entertaining and inventive sequences of movie magic in the years to come.

We here at CinemaBlend send our condolences to the family and friends of Bill Withers in this moment of mourning.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.