A native of West Virginia, Withers served for nine years in the U.S. Navy, and upon his 1965 discharge continued to work in the aircraft business even as he began pursuing an extracurricular interest in making music. A number of fortuitous occurrences led to Withers being introduced to Clarence Avant of Sussex Records, who in turn brought Booker T. Jones, of Booker T. and the MGs, to Withers. Jones was signed to produce the album that became Just As I Am, and brought along compatriots like Al Jackson and the recently-departed Donald "Duck" Dunn to contribute musically. Adding a unique sound to the album was the guitar of Stephen Stills, with whom Jones had recently worked and also enlisted to join the sessions for the debut of this new singer/songwriter.
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