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The upcoming Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2015 class features plenty of smashmouth star power with the likes of Green Day and late Velvet Underground front man Lou Reed, but the lone African-American and non-rock act has been awarded to none other than the soulful Bill Withers.

Via Rolling Stone:

Withers, who has been largely absent from the music scene over the past three decades, was surprised when he heard the news. “I never thought it was some kind of entitlement or something,” he says. “I just never felt that anyone owed me this. It’s something that’s nice that happened. I guess I’ll have to go buy a suit.”

He might even agree to a rare performance on the evening, but at the moment he’s far from sure about that. “There are some people that can sing in their later years and some of them that can’t,” he says. “I don’t want to be on of those old guys that sounds like a gerbil trying to give birth to a hippopotamus. I’ve gotta see if I can’t conjure it up.”

“I still have to process this,” he says on the phone from his home in Los Angeles. “You know that Billy Joel line, ‘Hot funk, cool punk, even if it’s old junk, it’s still rock & roll to me?’ I’m happy to represent the old junk category.” That’s an insanely modest statement for the guy that wrote “Lean on Me,” “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Just the Two of Us” and many other stunningly brilliant songs. Some of those tunes will be performed at the induction ceremony, and maybe even by Withers himself.

Withers’ last album was released in 1985, but with timeless records such as “Grandma Hands,” “Lovely Day” and of course, “Lean on Me,” his legacy has been fermented to perfection for all generations that came afterwards.

Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, female rock legend Joan Jett, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble round out the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2015 Class. The induction ceremony will commence on April 18th, 2015 at Cleveland’s Public Hall. Tickets go on sale Thursday, December 18.

Photo: Joel Ginsburg/