Ain't No Sunshine

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"Ain't No Sunshine"
Single by Bill Withers
from the album Just As I Am
B-side "Harlem"
Released June 1971
Format 7" record
Genre Soul, R&B, blues
Length 2:04
Label Sussex
Writer(s) Bill Withers
Producer(s) Booker T. Jones
Bill Withers singles chronology
"Ain't No Sunshine"
"Grandma's Hands"

"Ain't No Sunshine" is a song by Bill Withers from his 1971 album Just As I Am, produced by Booker T. Jones. The record featured musicians Donald "Duck" Dunn on bass guitar, Al Jackson, Jr. on drums and Stephen Stills on guitar.[1] String arrangements were done by Booker T. Jones, and recorded in Memphis by engineer Terry Manning. The song is in natural minor.[2]

The song was released as a single in September 1971, becoming a breakthrough hit for Withers, reaching number six on the U.S. R&B Chart and number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Billboard ranked it as the No. 23 song for 1971.[3]


Withers was inspired to write this song after watching the 1962 movie Days of Wine and Roses. He explained, in reference to the characters played by Lee Remick and Jack Lemmon, "They were both alcoholics who were alternately weak and strong. It's like going back for seconds on rat poison. Sometimes you miss things that weren't particularly good for you. It's just something that crossed my mind from watching that movie, and probably something else that happened in my life that I'm not aware of."[4]

For the song's third verse, Withers had intended to write more lyrics instead of repeating the phrase "I know" 26 times, but then followed the advice of the other musicians to leave it that way: "I was this factory worker puttering around," Withers said. "So when they said to leave it like that, I left it."[5] (Withers, then thirty-one years old, was working at a factory making toilet seats for 747s at the time.[5])

The song was originally released as the B-side to another song called "Harlem". Disc jockeys played "Ain't No Sunshine" as the single instead, and it became a huge hit,[4] the first for Withers.[5]

Withers performed the song on The Old Grey Whistle Test.[6]

In 1972, Michael Jackson's cover of the song was a hit single. It also featured on his debut album Got to Be There in the same year.[7]

"Ain't No Sunshine" is ranked 285th on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[8] The song won the Grammy for Best R&B Song in 1972.[4]


  1. ^ The Mojo Collection: 4th Edition, LyricsFreak, Broken Radio, About.comOldies Music - In The Spotlight: Bill Withers
  2. ^ Stephenson, Ken (2002). What to Listen for in Rock: A Stylistic Analysis, p.89. ISBN 978-0-300-09239-4.
  3. ^ Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1971
  4. ^ a b c "Ain't No Sunshine". Archived from the original on 8 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-03. 
  5. ^ a b c Ain't No Sunshine: Rolling Stone
  6. ^ The Old Grey Whistle Test (DVD). Warner Home Video. 2003. 
  7. ^ "Michael Jackson". Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  8. ^ "500 Greatest Songs of All Time". 

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