Withers recorded the song in Memphis for his 1971 album Just As I Am. It was released as a single that year, peaking at number three on the US Billboard Hot 100 and becoming Withers’ breakthrough hit. It won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in 1972.
For the MTV Unplugged performance McCartney played drums, with Hamish Stuart taking over on vocals and guitar.
I wanted Hamish to do something, and during a break in jams we often swap around instruments – I get on drums and Hamish might start doing ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’. It was good fun, doing it on Unplugged. Any excuse to be loose, as I said before.
I like playing drums, I have a reasonable feel, though I’m not a good technical drummer. But as Elvis Costello told me recently, not many people have got feel. So I thought, right then, I’ll play on telly!
Club Sandwich, Summer 1991
McCartney also performed ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ during some of the dates of his 1993 New World Tour.