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RIP Bill Withers

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You just keep on using me, until you use me up...

 

RIP Bill Withers

 

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RIP

 

Thank you for your contribution to the entertainment industry. 

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He should have done one called "My Life is Full of Sunshine When She's Gone".

Always a cool dude... this is how I like soul music, not the crap they tout nowadays.

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Withers was a major talent. But he suffered from terrible stage fright. This story was recently posted on a Steely Dan message board by a SD insider, all around music insider and great guy, Pete Fogel:

 

Hey guys......Did you know that Bill Withers was scheduled to be part of the NY Rock & Soul Revue?

In 1990, before Steely Dan reunited, Donald Fagen put together "The New York Rock & Soul Revue". The show's format was a round robin of artists that Fagen hand picked to perform covers of iconic (and not so iconic) soul songs of the past. They had a very successful show earlier that year at the Beacon Theater in NYC, which was recorded for a live album. The show featured the likes of Phoebe Snow, Charles Brown, Michael McDonald, Boz Scaggs, etc. Later that year, (August 1990) Fagen wanted to try the Revue at a small high school auditorium in Southampton. It was only going to be a two night run. Boz and McDonald weren't available, so, to everyone's surprise, Fagen recruited the great Bill Withers! Bill was famous for having really bad stage fright, which is why everyone was so shocked that he committed to the show. As a matter of fact, it was such a coup, the gigs would now be billed as, "Donald Fagen & Bill Withers New York Rock & Soul Revue". There was to be a week's worth of rehearsals in NYC before the shows in Southampton. As fate would have it, Mr. Withers was staying at The Mayflower Hotel on Central Park West. Well, I just happened to be the bartender at the Mayflower in 1990.

After rehearsals at SIR, Bill would come to the hotel bar to unwind and have a few cocktails. The first time we met at the Mayflower bar, of course I told him what a big fan I was, and he shook my hand and was very gracious. I always kept a few issues of the Steely Dan Fanzine, "Metal Leg" that I produced at the time behind the bar. As I handed Bill an issue, I told him that I was going to cover the two shows for the fanzine and was very excited to see him perform with Fagen. As the week went by, each day after rehearsal, Bill would come in and tell about how it was going. As he felt more comfortable with me, he would give me more info about the show; which songs they were going to play, who was taking which solos, what other performers he was impressed with. (He LOVED Catherine Russell). He was very outgoing and extremely nice to me. I kept thinking to myself, does this guy really have bad stage fright? He seemed so cool and comfortable around me, and I was an obsessed fan...lol. It was hard to believe that he was scared to play in front of an audience. A few days before the Southampton show, I asked Bill a favor. I told him that Fagen knew who I was and asked him if he could ask Donald for a photo/press pass for me. Bill said "sure" and told me the next day that Donald said no problem, and the photo pass would be at will call. I thanked him very much and told him that I would see him in Southampton. He said great and told me he was having a blast at rehearsals and couldn't wait!

The night of the show arrives, and I'm standing on the side of the stage with my camera ready to rock and roll! The show starts and Donald begins to invite each performer out to do a song. As Donald goes to introduce Bill for the first time of the night, the stage manger comes over to Fagen and whispers something into his ear. Donald announces to the crowd that Bill Withers was about to come out but there would be a delay with his first performance. About 30 minutes goes by and Fagen looks at his watch and says, Where's Bill Withers"? Ends up Bill was hiding in his dressing room and wouldn't come out! As the road manager was going to plead with him to come to the stage, Bill darts out the stage door to a waiting car and yells to the driver, "GO!" All I kept thinking about was our week long conversation about the show and how excited he was to do it. I mean, he even flew in from LA. Anyway, that's my Bill Withers story. He was a gentleman..Pete Fogel
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There’s a documentary about him called Still Bill on Amazon’s Prime.  You can either pay to watch or sign up for a trial period of some streaming service to see it free. 

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