Category: bill withers

On this day in music history: May 14, 1971 – &…

On this day in music history: May 14, 1971 – “Just As I Am”, the debut album by Bill Withers is released. Produced by Booker T. Jones, it is recorded at Wally Heider Studio 3 and Sunset Sound Recorders in Hollywood, CA in July 1970 and January 1971. Harboring a passion for music since childhood, but painfully shy and a chronic stutterer, it is not until after Bill Withers spends a decade in the Navy, that he decides to pursue his dream. He relocates to Los Angeles, working days at an aircraft assembly plant, and writing songs at night. Withers saves his money to record demos. Nearly thirty, the executives he encounters are dismissive, telling him “he’s too old to make it in the music business”. Unwilling to give up, he keeps trying, when his luck changes. In 1970, Bill meets Ray Jackson of Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band. Jackson offers to help him record more demos. Ray plays them for Forest Hamilton, the son of jazz drummer Chico Hamilton. Forest introduces Withers to Clarence Avant, the founder of Sussex Records who offers to sign him. Avant pairs Bill with Booker T. Jones (Booker T. & The MG’s) to produce. Jones enlists his band mates Al Jackson, Jr. (drums) and Donald “Duck” Dunn (bass) to back Withers. Jones also invites his friend Stephen Stills to sit in and play. They originally intend to record the album in four three hour sessions. Things do not go as planned, when they are kicked out of the studio after Sussex runs out of funds. Six months goes by before recording resumes. They relocate to Sunset Sound with Jim Keltner (drums), Chris Etheridge (bass) and Bobbye Hall (percussion). Recorded for the paltry sum of only $3,600, the cover of “Just As I Am” features a photo of Withers standing outside of the factory where he was still working. The course of his life changes forever with the release of “Ain’t No Sunshine” (#3 Pop, #6 R&B, #2 AC), inspired by the film “The Days Of Wine And Roses”. It becomes a multi-format smash, going Gold by September. Receiving great praise for his honest and heartfelt songs, at thirty three, Bill Withers becomes a star, earning three Grammy nominations in 1972, and winning Best R&B Song for “Ain’t No Sunshine”. The follow up “Grandma’s Hands” (#42 Pop, #18 R&B, #16 AC) is also a hit, later becoming the basis of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity”. First released on CD in the early 90’s, it is remastered and reissued as a DualDisc/DVD-A disc with the DVD side featuring a 5.1 Surround remix and a documentary on the making of the record, along with three live television performances. It is remastered again in 2012 as part of “The Complete Sussex And Columbia Albums” box set and on vinyl by 4 Men With Beards and Music On Vinyl. “Just As I Am” peaks at number five on the Billboard R&B album chart, number thirty nine on the Top 200.

Help support the Behind The Grooves music blog with a donation by clicking on the link at: PayPal.Me/jharris1228

On this day in music history: July 8, 1972 – &…

On this day in music history: July 8, 1972 – “Lean On Me” by Bill Withers hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for 1 week on June 24, 1972. Written and produced by Bill Withers, it is the biggest hit for the singer, songwriter and musician from Slab Fork, WV. Withers is inspired to write the song after moving to Los Angeles from his small hometown in West Virginia. Missing the close community ties and support of his home, he writes it as a form of encouragement, to those who find themselves on their own, and without their friends and family to hold them up. Having purchased a new Wurlitzer electric piano, Withers spontaneously comes up with the main chord progression (C major, D major, and E major). In the studio, he records the track with members of the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band including James Gadson (drums), Melvin Dunlap (bass), Benorce Blackman (guitar) and Ray Jackson (keyboards). Issued as the first single from his second studio album “Still Bill” in March of 1972, it is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #83 on April 22, 1972, it climbs to the top of the chart eleven weeks later. The song also wins Withers a Grammy Award in 1987 for Best R&B Song, after Club Nouveau’s cover version takes the song to number one for a second time in March of 1987. “Lean On Me” is later used as the title of a 1989 film directed by John G. Avildsen (“Rocky”, “The Karate Kid”) starring Morgan Freeman as Joe Louis Clark, the principal of a tough inner city high school in New Jersey. “Lean On Me” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

Born on this day: July 4, 1938 – Singer, songw…

Born on this day: July 4, 1938 – Singer, songwriter and musician Bill Withers (born William Harrison Withers, Jr. in Slab Fork, WV). Happy 80th Birthday, Bill!!

On this day in music history: May 30, 1972 – &…

On this day in music history: May 30, 1972 – “Still Bill”, the second studio album by Bill Withers is released. Produced by Benorce Blackmon, Bill Withers, James Gadson, Melvin Dunlap and Ray Jackson, it is recorded at The Record Plant in Los Angeles, CA in Early 1972. Issued as the follow up to his Grammy winning debut, “Just As I Am”, Withers records his second album while on a brief hiatus from touring. He enlists assistance from former Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band members James Gadson, Benorce Blackman, Melvin Dunlap, Ray Jackson and percussionist Bobbye Hall to play on the album. Like his debut, Withers’ sophomore album is recorded quickly and on the cheap, costing only $7,200 this time. In spite of its meager budget, the quality of the material and performances are top notch. The musician again draws on personal life experiences to fuel his artistry, with outstanding results. A major critical and commercial success upon its release, it becomes Withers biggest selling album. It spins off three singles including “Lean On Me” (#1 R&B and Pop), and “Use Me” (#2 R&B and Pop). Original LP pressings come packaged in a uniquely designed sleeve where the front of the jacket open like french doors to reveal photos of Withers and his band, with the song lyrics and credits printed on the inner flaps. This packaging is replicated on the remastered CD issued with the Grammy winning box set featuring Withers’ Sussex and Columbia Records catalog in 2012. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is first reissued in 2003. It is remastered and reissued again as a 180 gram LP by Music On Vinyl (Europe) and 4 Men With Beards Records (US). “Still Bill” spends six weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number four on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: May 14, 1971 – &…

On this day in music history: May 14, 1971 – “Just As I Am”, the debut album by Bill Withers is released. Produced by Booker T. Jones, it is recorded at Wally Heider Studio 3 and Sunset Sound Recorders in Hollywood, CA in July 1970 and January 1971. Harboring a passion for music since childhood, but painfully shy and a chronic stutterer, it is not until after Bill Withers spends a decade in the Navy, that he decides to pursue his dream. He relocates to Los Angeles, working days at an aircraft assembly plant, and writing songs at night. Withers saves his money to record demos to shop to record labels. Nearly thirty, the executives he encounters are dismissive, telling him “he’s too old to make it in the music business”. Unwilling to give up, he keeps trying, when his luck changes. In 1970, Bill meets Ray Jackson of Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band. Jackson offers to help him record more demos. Ray plays them for Forest Hamilton, the son of jazz drummer Chico Hamilton. Forest introduces Withers to Clarence Avant, the founder of Sussex Records who offers to sign him. Avant pairs Bill with Booker T. Jones of the legendary Memphis soul band Booker T. & The MG’s to produce. Jones enlists his band mates Al Jackson, Jr. (drums) and Donald “Duck” Dunn (bass) to back Withers. Jones also invites his friend Stephen Stills to sit in and play. They originally intend to record the album in four three hour sessions. Things do not go as planned, when they are kicked out of the studio after the second session when Sussex runs out of funds. Six months goes by before recording resumes. They relocate to Sunset Sound with Jim Keltner (drums), Chris Etheridge (bass) and Bobbye Hall (percussion). Recorded for the paltry sum of only $3,600, the cover of “Just As I Am” features a photo of Withers standing outside of the factory where he was still working. The course of his life changes forever with the release of “Ain’t No Sunshine” (#3 Pop, #6 R&B, #2 AC), inspired by the film “The Days Of Wine And Roses”. It becomes a multi-format smash, going Gold by September. Receiving great praise for his honest and heartfelt songs, at thirty three, Bill Withers becomes a star, earning three Grammy nominations in 1972, and winning Best R&B Song for “Ain’t No Sunshine”. The follow up “Grandma’s Hands” (#42 Pop, #18 R&B, #16 AC) is also a hit, later becoming the basis of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity”. First released on CD in the early 90’s, it is remastered and reissued as a DualDisc/DVD-A disc with the DVD side featuring a 5.1 Surround remix and a documentary on the making of the record, along with three live television performances. It is remastered again in 2012 as part of “The Complete Sussex And Columbia Albums” box set and on vinyl by 4 Men With Beards and Music On Vinyl. “Just As I Am” peaks at number five on the Billboard R&B album chart, number thirty nine on the Top 200.

Photo

Photo

Bill Withers by Will Herring

Bill Withers by Will Herring