Ain't No Sunshine

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"Ain't No Sunshine"
Ain't No Sunshine by Bill Withers US single.png
US vinyl single release
Single by Bill Withers
from the album Just As I Am
B-side "Harlem"
ReleasedJuly 1971
Label Sussex
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 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. The song was recorded 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 .


Bill Withers, 1971 Bill Withers - Just As I Am, 1971 (cropped) (2).jpg
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." [2]

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." [2]

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. [3] "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. [4] "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 . [5] It won the Grammy for Best R&B Song in 1972 [4] and is ranked 285th on Rolling Stone 's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. [6]



RegionCertification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA) [20] Platinum70,000Double-dagger-14-plain.png
Italy (FIMI) [21] Platinum50,000Double-dagger-14-plain.png
United Kingdom (BPI) [22] Platinum600,000Double-dagger-14-plain.png
United States (RIAA) [23] Gold1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
Double-dagger-14-plain.png Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Michael Jackson version

"Ain't No Sunshine"
Ain't No Sunshine Michael Jackson.jpg
Single by Michael Jackson
from the album Got to Be There
B-side "I Wanna Be Where You Are"
ReleasedJuly 3, 1972
Studio Hitsville West, Los Angeles, California
Label Motown
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. .


Chart (1972)Peak
UK Singles (OCC) [24] 8
Chart (2009)Peak
UK Singles (OCC) [25] 92

Boris Gardiner version

The Boris Gardiner Happening recorded a version of "Ain't No Sunshine" in 1973 with Paul Douglas singing lead, and Boris Gardiner playing bass guitar, for the album Is What's Happening. [26]

Budka Suflera version

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. [27]

Weekly charts

Chart (1983)Peak
Poland (LP3) [28] 14

Rockmelons featuring Deni Hines version

"Ain't No Sunshine"
Single by The Rockmelons feat. Deni Hines
from the album Form 1 Planet
ReleasedNovember 1991
Label Festival Mushroom Records
Songwriter(s) Bill Withers
Producer(s) The Rockmelons
The Rockmelons feat. Deni Hines singles chronology
"Ain't No Sunshine"
"That Word (L.O.V.E.)"

In November 1991, Australian pop band Rockmelons, (featuring vocalist Deni Hines) released a version as the lead single from their second studio album, Form 1 Planet (1992). The song peaked at number 5 and was certified Gold in Australia. [29]

Weekly charts

Chart (1991/92)Peak
Australia (ARIA) [30] 5
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ) [31] 8

Ladysmith Black Mambazo featuring Des'ree version

"Ain't No Sunshine"
Single by Ladysmith Black Mambazo feat. Des'ree
from the album In Harmony
ReleasedOctober 1999
Genre World
Label UMTV
Songwriter(s) Bill Withers
Ladysmith Black Mambazo feat. Des'ree singles chronology
"Best Days"
"Ain't No Sunshine"
"It's Okay"

In 1999, South African male choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, (featuring vocalist Des'ree) released a version as a single from their studio album, In Harmony (1999). The single peaked at number 42 in the UK. [32]

Weekly charts

Chart (1999)Peak
UK Singles (OCC) [33] 42

Other covers

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