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Bill Withers – Signed Recording Contract with Sussex Records, For Debut Album (with ‘Ain’t No Sunshine,’ ‘Grandma’s Hands’)

Bill Withers’ original recording contract with Sussex Records, initialed on each page and fully signed on the final page by Withers. One year after signing this historic agreement, Withers’ released his debut album Just As I Am, featuring the classics “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Grandma’s Hands.”

The twelve-page contract, made out to “Billy Withers” and dated May 8, 1970, binds Withers to Sussex for one year, with four one-year options at the label’s election.  Upon signing Withers received the rather measly recoupable advance of $750. The contract is signed on behalf of Sussex by the label’s founder, Clarence Avant.

At the time of his signing, Withers worked for a manufacturing company, making toilets for 747 airliners.

From Wikipedia: Withers worked as an assembler for several different companies, including Douglas Aircraft Corp., IBM and Ford while recording demo tapes with his own money, shopping them around and performing in clubs at night…In early 1970, Withers’s demonstration tape was auditioned favorably by Clarence Avant, owner of Sussex Records.  Avant signed Withers to a record deal and assigned former Stax Records stalwart [and Booker T. and the MG’s leader] Booker T. Jones to produce Withers’ first album [with backing from Steven Stills and MG’s Jones, Duck Dunn and Al Jackson Jr.]…On the cover of the album, Withers is pictured at his job at Weber Aircraft in Burbank, Calif.  holding his lunch box.

A Washington Post article noted Withers was laid off from Weber Aircraft ahead of his debut album’s release, but his luck had changed dramatically by the time “Ain’t No Sunshine” peaked at No. 3 on the Hot 100 that fall.  “It’s funny because I got two requests in one day,” Withers mused in [the documentary] “Still Bill.” “I got a letter from my job saying that I was called back for work. And I got a request to do the Johnny Carson show.”

Just As I Am was a hit, and in 1972 Withers won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song for “Ain’t No Sunshine”. The track had already sold over one million copies and was certified as a Gold Record in September 1971.  It has since been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and Just As I Am was ranked 304 in Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Included is an audiophile copy of Just As I Am, and Recordmecca’s written lifetime guarantee of authenticity.

A truly museum quality Bill Withers collectible.


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