'One World: Together at Home': Stevie Wonder Performs Emotional Tribute to Bill Withers After His Death at 81

During his turn on Saturday night's One World: Together at Home special, the legendary Stevie Wonder paid tribute to another legend, the late Bill Withers. Wonder, who helped induct Withers into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015, delivered a powerful and emotional performance of Withers' "Lean On Me." The singer then segued into his own song "Love's In Need of Love Today," which also seemed like a perfect song for this moment.

"During hardships like this we have to lean on each other for help," Wonder said from his home. "My friend, the late Bill Withers, has a perfect song about that... I want us to remember him tonight." Wonder then performed "Lean On Me," one of Withers' most beloved songs. Witheers died on March 30 at age 81 from heart complications.

"We are devastated by the loss of our beloved, devoted husband and father. 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," Withers' family said in a statement on April 3. "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."

After Withers' death, Wonder shared an emotional statement with Billboard, revealing they texted in recent months about playing together. "I responded that it would be my pleasure, my joy. Just let me know and I’ll be there. That's the last message I got from him," Wonder said.

"May the greatness of Bill Withers live forever," Wonder told the magazine. "People will be listening to his songs and reading his lyrics like they do with great writers from ages ago, saying he was amazing. And yes, he was. We’ve got to show a lot of love to his wife and children and keep the legacy of what he left behind going ever strong. I think every artist at some point should record one of his songs on their projects. That’s how you keep it going. He deserves that."


Withers was best known for the hits "Ain't No Sunshine," "Lean On Me," "Use Me," "Grandma's Hands," "Lovely Day" and "Just The Two of Us." Although he walked away from the music business in 1985, his songs never lost their stature. He joined the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005 and won three Best R&B Song Grammys.

One World was organized by the World Health Organization and the advocacy group Global Citizen to raise awareness of organizations fighting the coronavirus pandemic. It aired on ABC, NBC and CBS, with Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert hosting. Other performers included Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga, Eddie Vedder, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Kacey Musgraves and Alanis Morissette.