"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 and Al Jackson, Jr. on drums, as well as Withers on lead vocals and guitar. String arrangements were done by Booker T. Jones, and recorded in Memphis by engineer Terry Manning. The song was released as a single in September 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.
The song is in natural minor.
Withers was inspired to write this 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."
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." (Withers, then thirty-one years old, was working at a factory making toilet seatsfor 747s at the time.)
In the television series Perception the lead character, Dr. Daniel Pierce, sings a version of this song.
On television, the song is briefly heard in the animated series Drawn Together (episode "Dirty Pranking No. 2"), during the sound analysis in the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode "Anonymous," and LAX (episode "Secret Santa"). It was sung karaoke-style on the USA Network show, Monk, by Captain Leland Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine) in the episode "Mr. Monk Goes to Vegas." The song was also briefly played at the end of an episode of One on One, with Kyla Pratt.
In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air season 4 finale "The Philadelphia Story" Will played it on a diner jukebox and danced to it eventually striking the unit with one hand at the end of the repetitive chorus, which made it sound as if the record was skipping.
The song was heard in the background in the conclusion of the first season finale of The Bernie Mac Show, "Sweet Home Chicago, Part 2", where Vanessa was in downtown Chicago, searching for her mother.
"Ain't No Sunshine" was used as music for a rumba in So You Think You Can Dance during season 3, performed by Lauren Gottlieb and Dominic Sandoval. Kris Allen covered the song during the eighth season and also the finale ofAmerican Idol. Fellow Idol contestants Christina Christian (Season 1) and Aaron Kelly (Season 9) also performed the song on the show. At Last sung their version on the talent showcase America's Got Talent, and later released it as a single on the web. Neil Diamond sang the song with the Season 2 finalists of the reality show The Sing-Off. Former UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva and former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Chuck Liddell have both used the song as entrance music for their fights.
In a 2013 episode of the sitcom Raising Hope the song was used when the character Jimmy sings it after losing a girlfriend (once as a teen, once as a child), with his mother Virginia taking the "I know I know I know I know" part. At the end of the episode Jimmy's wife, Sabrina begins singing the song after getting dumped as a friend by one of Jimmy's exes.
Nancy Sinatra recorded a version in 1973 while signed to RCA Records. The track is the B-side of her Sugar Me single. It was also included on her 2009 digital collection, Cherry Smiles: The Rare Singles. In December 2012, Sinatra's recording was used in filmmaker Katja Hentschel’s 2012 film Paradise Serenade, in which model Bonnie Strange appears at the Velassaru Maldives Resort.
- In Europe, finalist Shaun Smith sang "Ain't No Sunshine" for his audition and in the final for Britain's Got Talent.
- In Italy's version of X Factor, Noemi sang the song during the sixth episode.
- In Deutschland sucht den Superstar, Mark Medlock, Nevio Passaro and Daniel Schuhmacher sang this song.
- "Ain't No Sunshine" was used in a major television public service announcement in Australia for skin cancer.
- In 2007 the track was sampled by Drum & Bass artists Bachelors of Science.
- Featured in CSI: NY episode "Manhattanhenge".
- It is used in promotions for The Closer.
- Featured in German action series Alarm für Cobra 11 episode "Alte Freunde" (2009).
- In 2010, track "Then Days Went By" by 50 Cent from his album Before I Self Destruct samples the Michael Jackson version.
- Plays during the 2010 Super Bowl XLIV commercial for the video game Dante's Inferno. EA Games wanted the advertisement to go "beyond masses" with the song.
- In 2002, D.E. Edwards covered "Ain't No Sunshine" on his Woven Hand moniker's self-titled debut LP.
- In 2000, Eva Cassidy covered "Ain't No Sunshine" on her album Time After Time.
- In 1995, the song was done by Joe Cocker on the album Sol En Si – Solidarité Enfants Sida.
- In 2010, Neil Diamond covered this song on his album Dreams.
- In 1991, Australian singer Deni Hines and The Rockmelons covered this song.
- In 2001 rapper DMX sampled this song for the film "Exit Wounds".