On this day in 1972, Bill Withers took the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and the soul singles chart with his song “Lean on Me”.
The classic song that has become the anthem for supporting others, has since been named number 205 on the Rolling Stone’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. It is also one of the few songs ever to have two different artists record versions that reached number one.
R&B group Club Nouveau covered the song and it sat at number one for two weeks on the Billboard charts in 1987. It also scored number one on the dance charts, and won a Grammy award in 1987 for Bill Withers, as the writer, for Best R&B Song.
He recorded other major hits including “Ain’t No Sunshine”, “Use Me” and “Just the Two of Us”. But this song in particular had special meaning to Bill: he got the inspiration for the song from his childhood in the coal mining town of Slab Fork, West Virginia. When he moved to Los Angeles, he missed the strong community feel of his hometown.