1978 Bill Withers – Lovely Day
Bill Withers was born the song of a coal miner in 1938. When he turned 13, his father died, and when he reached 17, he enlisted in the navy.
Bill became interested in singing and songwriting while in the navy. He left the military in 1965 and moved to LA two years later to pursue a career in music after leaving the navy.
He sang in clubs and learned to play the guitar. After recording a series of demos, he finally got a contract with Sussex Records in 1970 and began recording his first album. He was fortunate enough to have Stephen Stills playing lead guitar on the album.
The first single from the album failed to find an audience, but his second song, Ain’t No Sunshine, reached #3 on the Hot 100 and #6 on the R&B chart. The record easily earned a gold record and sold over three million copies. Bill won a Grammy Award for the song as well.
His next single stalled just short of the top forty. His second album in 1972 spawned two more million-selling singles, Lean on Me and Use Me. The singles reached #1 and #2 respectively on both the Hot 100 and the R&B chart.
While a half-dozen of his follow-up singles from his third album and other recordings did fairly well on the R&B chart, he mostly fell off the Hot 100 chart until 1978. Conflict with his record label prevented him from releasing any more albums until he signed with Columbia Records in 1975.
He finally returned to the charts with the single Lovely Day in 1978. The song caught a lot of attention because of a note near the end of the song that Bill held for 18 seconds, which may still be a record for charted songs in the US.
The single only reached #30 on the Hot 100 but also reached #25 on the Adult Contemporary chart and #6 on the R&B chart.
Bill’s last major hit on the charts came in 1981. He recorded Just the Two of Us with Grover Washington Jr. and again reached #2 on the Hot 100. The song also earned him his second Grammy Award.
By 1985, the difficulty of dealing with record companies finally drove Bill from the music industry. He stopped recording and touring. He later won a third Grammy Award, and they inducted him into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.
Bill suffered heart complications and died at age 81 in 2020.
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