Contrary to popular belief, Singer/songwriter Bill Withers is not dead. So take heart, fans who never stopped bumping his laidback 70s soul classics “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Lean On Me”—the man is still alive and writing music. “Jesse Jackson recently called me to find out if I was still alive,” Withers told a reporter in 2006. “He said his wife was walking around the house upset because she heard that I had died. We get a lot of those calls from foreign countries and everything. I’m used to it by now.”
In their lovingly enlightening documentary Still Bill, filmmakers Damani Baker and Alex Vlack have constructed a brilliant portrait of a musician who’s currently more in tune with his family than with show business and the endless demands of stardom. As Withers admits candidly, “The fame game was kicking my ass.”
Like many of us who grew up in the 1970s, Living Colour vocalist Corey Glover, who performed a riveting version of Withers’ jealous guy anthem “Who is He (And What is He to You?)” at a tribute concert in Brooklyn last year, was raised under the spell of Bill.
“When I was a kid, we played that tape in my fathers Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme,” remembers Glover, whose performance was captured in the documentary. “Those are some of my earliest memories of Bill Withers. Driving with my family to cookouts and picnics while everyone sang along to ‘Lean on Me’. His music is literally therapeutic for him and us. To me, he is what Bob Dylan wants to be.”
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