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Ain't No Sunshine

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"Ain't No Sunshine"
Side B of the 1985 US reissue
Single by Bill Withers
from the album Just As I Am
ReleasedJuly 1971
Songwriter(s)Bill Withers
Producer(s)Booker T. Jones
Bill Withers singles chronology
"Ain't No Sunshine"
"Grandma's Hands"
Official audio
"Ain't No Sunshine" on YouTube

"Ain't No Sunshine" is a song by Bill Withers, from his 1971 debut 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.[2] String arrangements were done by Booker T. Jones. The song was recorded in Los Angeles, with overdubs in Memphis by engineer Terry Manning.

The song was released as a single in 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.

The song reached the Top 40 again in 2009, when it was sung by Kris Allen in the eighth season of American Idol.

In 2024, the single was added to the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, and/or aesthetically significant".[3]


Bill Withers, 1971

Withers was inspired to write the 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."[4]

Withers, then 31, was working at a factory making bathrooms for 747s at the time he wrote the song. When the song went gold, the record company presented Withers with a golden toilet seat, marking the start of his new career.[5] "Ain't No Sunshine" was the first of Withers' three gold records in the U.S.

Originally released as the B-side to another song called "Harlem", "Ain't No Sunshine" was preferred by disc jockeys, and it became a huge hit, Withers' first.[6] "Harlem" was subsequently covered by The 5th Dimension, who featured it on their Soul and Inspiration album and released it as a single.

Withers performed "Ain't No Sunshine" on The Old Grey Whistle Test.[7] It won the Grammy for Best R&B Song in 1972[6] and is ranked 285th on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[8]




Certifications for "Ain't No Sunshine"
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[24] Platinum 70,000
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[25] Platinum 90,000
Germany (BVMI)[26] Gold 250,000
Italy (FIMI)[27] Platinum 50,000
New Zealand (RMNZ)[28] 3× Platinum 90,000
Portugal (AFP)[29] 2× Platinum 20,000
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[30] 2× Platinum 120,000
United Kingdom (BPI)[31] 2× Platinum 1,200,000
United States (RIAA)[32] 4× Platinum 4,000,000
Greece (IFPI Greece)[33] Platinum 2,000,000

Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.
Streaming-only figures based on certification alone.

Michael Jackson version

"Ain't No Sunshine"
Single by Michael Jackson
from the album Got to Be There
B-side"I Wanna Be Where You Are"
ReleasedJuly 3, 1972
StudioHitsville West (Los Angeles, California)
Songwriter(s)Bill Withers
Producer(s)Hal Davis
Michael Jackson singles chronology
"I Wanna Be Where You Are"
"Ain't No Sunshine"

In 1971, singer Michael Jackson recorded a rendition of Bill Withers' song for his debut album Got to Be There (released in early 1972).

In the UK the song was released as the third (and final) single from the album (after the two singles "Got to Be There" and "Rockin' Robin", a cover of Bobby Day's 1958 song). The song "I Wanna Be Where You Are", which was released as the third single in the US, was on the B-side. It was a hit, peaking in the UK Singles Chart at number 8 for 3 weeks in September 1972. The song was remixed by Benny Blanco for the 2009 release The Remix Suite. The song's drum break was sampled in "Gonna Love Me" by Teyana Taylor from her second studio album K.T.S.E..


1972 weekly chart performance for "Ain't No Sunshine" by Michael Jackson
Chart (1972) Peak
UK Singles (OCC)[35] 8
2009 weekly chart performance for "Ain't No Sunshine" by Michael Jackson
Chart (2009) Peak
UK Singles (OCC)[36] 92

Other charted versions


The Polish rock band Budka Suflera recorded a cover version of the song in 1974 under the title "Sen o dolinie", with Krzysztof Cugowski providing the lead vocal. The single also appeared on their 1983 compilation album "1974-1984" released by Polskie Nagrania Muza. The Polish lyrics were written by Adam Sikorski. It peaked at number 14 on Poland's LP3 chart in 1983[37]

In November 1991, Australian pop band Rockmelons, (featuring vocalist Deni Hines) released a version as the lead single of their second studio album, Form 1 Planet (1992). The version peaked at number five and was certified Gold in Australia.[38][39] It also peaked at number eight in New Zealand.[40]

The Nylons version was released in 1998 and reached number 53 on the Canadian Adult Contemporary chart.[41] A South African male choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo recorded its own version featuring vocalist Des'ree for their studio album In Harmony (1999). As a single, the version peaked at number 42 in the UK.[42]

A heavy metal band Black Label Society covered the song entitled "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone" for their 2013 album Unblackened. As a single, the version peaked at number 42 on the Canadian Rock Chart.[43]


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  2. ^ The Mojo Collection: 4th Edition, LyricsFreak, Broken Radio, About.comOldies Music - In The Spotlight: Bill Withers
  3. ^ "The Notorious B.I.G., The Chicks, Green Day & More Selected for National Recording Registry (Full List)". Billboard. 2024-04-16. Retrieved 2024-04-16.
  4. ^ a b Wiser, Carl (2 January 2004). "Bill Withers : Songwriter Interviews". songfacts.com. Archived from the original on 24 March 2019.
  5. ^ Nichols, Paul; Ottewill, Jim (4 July 2017). "Soul man: Bill Withers". M Magazine. PRS for Music. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Ain't No Sunshine". songfacts.com. Archived from the original on 8 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-03.
  7. ^ The Old Grey Whistle Test (DVD). Warner Home Video. 2003.
  8. ^ "500 Greatest Songs of All Time: Bill Withers, 'Ain't No Sunshine'". Rolling Stone. 9 Dec 2004. Archived from the original on 11 July 2012.
  9. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  10. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". 2012-03-30.
  11. ^ "Bill Withers Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  12. ^ "Bill Withers Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.
  13. ^ "Bill Withers Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard.
  14. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 10/09/71". Tropicalglen.com. Archived from the original on 7 June 2015. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  15. ^ "Bill Withers – Ain't No Sunshine" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved April 10, 2020.
  16. ^ "IRMA – Irish Charts". Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved April 11, 2020.
  17. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 11, 2020.
  18. ^ "Bill Withers – Ain't No Sunshine". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved April 13, 2020.
  19. ^ "Bill Withers Chart History (Global 200)". Billboard. Retrieved April 16, 2024.
  20. ^ "Veckolista Heatseeker, vecka 18". Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved May 3, 2024.
  21. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1971/Top 100 Songs of 1971". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  22. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles - 1971". Tropicalglen.com. Archived from the original on 6 October 2016. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  23. ^ Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 1971-12-25. p. 15. Retrieved 2016-10-03. another day paul mccartney.
  24. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2020 Singles" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  25. ^ "Danish single certifications – Bill Withers – Ain't No Sunshine". IFPI Danmark. Retrieved February 10, 2022.
  26. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Bill Withers; 'Ain't No Sunshine')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved November 9, 2022.
  27. ^ "Italian single certifications – Bill Withers – Ain't No Sunshine" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
  28. ^ "New Zealand single certifications – Bill Withers – Ain't No Sunshine". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved March 12, 2024.
  29. ^ "Portuguese single certifications – Bill Withers – Ain't No Sunshine" (PDF) (in Portuguese). Associação Fonográfica Portuguesa. Retrieved April 3, 2024.
  30. ^ "Spanish single certifications – Bill Withers – Ain´t No Sunshine". El portal de Música. Productores de Música de España. Retrieved May 29, 2024.
  31. ^ "British single certifications – Bill Withers – Ain't No Sunshine". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved September 29, 2023.
  32. ^ "American single certifications – Bill Withers – Ain't No Sunshine". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved June 21, 2024.
  33. ^ "IFPI Charts – Digital Singles Chart (International) – Εβδομάδα: 07/2024" (in Greek). IFPI Greece. Retrieved February 23, 2024.
  34. ^ Pitchfork Staff (August 22, 2016). "The 200 Best Songs of the 1970s". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 13, 2022. It doesn't matter if it's reworked by teen-pop icons...
  35. ^ "Michael Jackson — full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2016-05-09.
  36. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 30, 2021.
  37. ^ "Lista Przebojów Programu 3". Poland LP3. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  38. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988-2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  39. ^ "Rockmelons feat. Deni Hines – 'Ain't No Sunshine' (song)". Australian-Charts.com. Retrieved October 21, 2022.
  40. ^ "Rockmelons feat. Deni Hines – 'Ain't No Sunshine' (song)". charts.org.nz. Retrieved October 21, 2022.
  41. ^ RPM Adult Contemporary, June 15, 1998
  42. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100 | Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com. Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  43. ^ Cubarrubia, RJ (August 9, 2013). "Black Label Society Cover Bill Withers' 'Sunshine' – Song Premiere". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 26, 2016.