Phyllis Hyman Didn’t Play: Here’s Why She Went Off On Bill Withers Over His Actress Ex Wife

Posted On : July 12, 2018

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The beloved Phyllis Hyman revealed in her book, “Strength of a Woman,” why she and “Lean on Me” singer, Bill Withers, once had a very public and heated argument.

Ms. Hyman was a beautiful and incredibly talented woman, but when you got on her last nerve (like they say down South), she had NO problem giving you a piece of her mind at the drop of a dime. This was the case one night on tour with Phyllis, Bill Withers and singer, Regina Belle.

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Phyllis said that she and Bill somehow got into a loud, heated argument backstage in front of Regina Belle and others, and that she didn’t hesitate to throw a verbal jab at him when she said this to him:

‘Come on motherf*cker…what are you gonna do, beat me the way you beat Denise Nicholas?!’

Ouch! Now of course, Bill was not by any means going to do that to her, but Phyllis admittedly was just making sure she hit him where it hurts, so to speak.

Drama With His Ex, Denise Nicholas That Hampered His Career

For those who don’t know, Denise Nicholas is the actress best known for her role in “In The Heat of the Night” and Bill Withers was dead smack in the middle of a media frenzy, as rumors were spreading like wildfire after his divorce from Denise. Denise and Bill were allegedly involved in a really stormy relationship and there were rumors that there was a domestic violence incident, although that was never proven as far as we know. So needless to say, Bill was pissed and I guess he learned that day that nobody better not EVER get on Phyllis’ bad side because homegirl didn’t play that.

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Bill is typically a really laid back and logical kind of guy though, so it must have been pretty bad to get him all hyped up like that. What Bill eventually said about the incident was that people like Phyllis and a bunch of other folks were giving him so much backlash about those domestic violence rumors that shortly after that argument , he isolated himself from the music industry. The reputation he had acquired caused him to not tour for seven whole years and he was only able to record 9 albums within a 15 year span because he said:

“People chose her (Denise Nicholas’) side….That’s all I could make (at the time), I didn’t make any albums between 1978 and 1985 because I couldn’t get any music past anybody’s desk at CBS Records.”

Wow, this was like a scene off of Empire. I could see “Cookie” (Taraji P. Henson) blurting out something similar to what Phyllis said, to “Lucious” (Terence Howard) in front of everyone at an ‘Empire Records’ meeting…LOL.

On the serious note, I hope Phyllis and Bill were eventually able to shake hands and forgive each other. Either way I’m still glad that both of them graced us with some timeless classics and if there’s one thing we’ve learned from all of this, it’s that Phyllis didn’t take no mess! Thank you Bill and thank you Phyllis, may she continue to rest peacefully.

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