Bill Withers, voice behind 'Lean on Me' and 'Ain't No Sunshine', dies aged 81

'Lean on Me' singer Bill Withers has died from heart complications.

The 81-year-old's family says he passed away on Monday, in Los Angeles.

The crooner was known for his smooth soul arrangements, including mega-hits 'Ain't No Sunshine' and 'Just The Two of Us'.

"We are devastated by the loss of our beloved, devoted husband and father," his family said in a statement.

"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. 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."

Tributes have poured in from famous fans, including Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, Chance the Rapper and Nile Rodgers of legendary funk band Chic.

"Class, class and more class," Rodgers tweeted.

'Lean on Me' was Withers' biggest hit, released in 1972.

By 1985 he'd grown tired of the industry, and retired, later saying he never regretted walking away.