Bill Withers Inducted Into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Stevie Wonder Honors His ‘Great Friend’
Soul legend Bill Withers were among the lauded musicians being honored at the 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cleveland on Saturday night (April 18). The 76-year-old singer-songwriter was formally enshrined by his good friend Stevie Wonder.
“This is not about me, this is about a great man, who has written some incredibly great songs,” he told the audience. “Not only has he written great songs, he sang them incredibly well.”
“It’s truly my honor to induct not only a great songwriter, a great musician, a great singer, but a great friend who I’ve known since I was a little boy…no, working on Talking Book,” he continued. “It’s an honor for me to induct this great man as another great member of the rock and roll hall of fame.”
Although Withers has remain out of the public eye for several years, he proved to be the night’s most charming and humorous speaker. The “Lovely Day” singer went off script and poke some fun at the entire spectacle.
“This has got to be the largest AA meeting in the western hemisphere,” he said. “I go back a whole lot of ways with a whole lot of different people.” He then added, “being an old guy, you know, sometimes you guys get too loud and I’ve got to go to the bathroom.”
Withers then went on to thank his wife, as well as the R&B pioneers who assisted him during his career including Booker T. Jones, who worked on his classic debut album, Just as I Am. He also thanked Wonder for ushering him into the Rock Hall.
“You know, I was laughing at myself, I said, ‘Stevie Wonder inducting me into the hall of fame is like a lion opening a door for a kitty cat,'” he said.
According to Cleveland.com, Withers sat next to Wonder, who performed his 1971 song “Ain’t No Sunshine” on a harpejji, which is a small tapping instrument. Then John Legend came out to honor Withers with a performance of “Use Me” backed by Wonder again.
During the pair’s performance of “Lean on Me,” Legend pulled Withers onstage to join them, which he reluctantly did. The soul legend hasn’t performed live in many years but for this special occasion Withers did sing. The trio’s performance became the highlight of the night.
So many exceptional performances at the Rock & Roll HOF Induction tonight. Was honored to be there with Stevie Wonder to honor Bill Withers
— John Legend (@johnlegend) April 19, 2015