Bill Withers, famous for hits Ain't No Sunshine and Lean On Me, has died aged 81

His signature hit Lovely Day was a Top 10 single twice.

Bill Withers, famous for hits such as Lovely Day, Ain't No Sunshine and Lean On Me has died aged 81.

The singer from West Virginia died of heart complications, according to a statement from his family.

“We are devastated by the loss of our beloved, devoted husband and father," his family said in the statement. "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."

Several of Withers' songs are staples of the American songbook. Lean On Me, an ode to the power of friendship, was performed at the inaugurations of presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. The song was his first entry on the Official UK Singles Chart in 1972, reaching Number 18.

Another favourite, Lovely Day, was a UK Top 10 single twice; first was the original which peaked at Number 7 in 1978, and then in 1988, the Sunshine Mix went Top 5.

View Bill Withers' Official UK Chart history in full here.

In recent years, Just The Two Of Us was covered by Will Smith in 1997, and sampled by Eminem that same year. In May 2009, Ain't No Sunshine reached the Top 40 for the first time (charting at Number 40) after an auditionee performed the track on Britain's Got Talent.

Withers is survived by his wife Marcia Johnson and their two children, Todd and Kori.

Image: Reed Saxon/AP/Shutterstock