Born in 1938, Withers spent his childhood in West Virginia. He lived in the mining town of Slab Fork and then in Beckley with his mother and grandmother; his father died when Withers was only 13. Withers stuttered as a child. He did not develop any musical ambitions until he became an adult. In the 2010 documentary about Withers, Still Bill, the artist’s Navy shipmates recall Withers singing and playing piano while they were stationed in Guam in the late ’50s and early ’60s. It was during this period that Withers began to write songs and think about a music career.
After his discharge from the Navy in 1965, Withers moved to L.A., where he worked assembling airplane toilets for Douglas Aircraft. Meanwhile, he spent his own earnings to record song demos, and looked for a label deal. [read]