Singer/songwriter Bill Withers wrote "Lean on Me" based on his experiences growing up in a West Virginia coal mining town. During the lean times, neighbors would help each other out. The simple chord progression was created while he noodled around on his just purchased Wurlitzer electric piano. He wasn't a pianist and had no knowledge of the keyboard; he just knew that he liked the sound made when he spaced his fingers a certain way. The sound of the chords reminded Withers of the church hymns that he heard growing up. The song was written before Withers was a recording star, having to come up with "material" for a new album. It was written purely on the basis of the singer wanting to express the "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" sentiment that he'd grown up with. On the session for "Lean on Me," producer Withers used former members of the Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band ("Express Yourself," "Loveland"): drummer James Gadson, keyboardist Ray Jackson, guitarist Benorce Blackman, and bassist Melvin Dunlop. The follow-up to "Ain't No Sunshine" and his second gold single, "Lean on Me" went to the number one spot on the R&B charts and topped the pop charts for three weeks in summer 1972.