During early 1970, Withers' demonstration tape was auditioned favorably by Clarence Avant , owner of Sussex Records . Avant signed Withers to a record deal and assigned former Stax Records stalwart Booker T. Jones to produce Withers' first album.  Four three-hour recording sessions were planned for the album, but funding caused the album to be recorded in three sessions with a six-month break between the second and final sessions. Just as I Am was released in 1971 with the tracks, "Ain't No Sunshine" and " Grandma's Hands " as singles. The album features Stephen Stills playing lead guitar.  On the cover of the album, Withers is pictured at his job at Weber Aircraft in Burbank, California , holding his lunch box.