Gone But Not Forgotten: Bobby Womack
March 4, 1944 - June 27, 2014
One of soul music's greatest, Robert Dwayne "Bobby" Womack had an influential approach to guitar, songwriting skills that earned many covers, and a trademarked raspy voice. Womack was born in the slums of Cleveland, Ohio and shared a bed with his brothers. His parents were both musicians, and as his brothers got older he began touring with them as The Womack Brothers. Sam Cooke found the group at a young age and mentored them. Eventually they toured nationally with The Staple Singers and then with James Brown as The Valentinos.
Womack wrote "It's All Over Now" which was rising on the charts when the Rolling Stones covered it and it became the group's first #1 UK hit. After Sam Cooke was killed in Los Angeles, The Valentinos broke up and Bobby Womack worked as a session musician, where he went on to tour and record with Ray Charles. His session work includes guitar for Aretha Franklin, Joe Tex, The Box Tops, and Sly and the Family Stone. He also wrote tunes for Wilson Pickett, Janis Joplin, George Benson and Sly and the Family Stone.
Bobby Womack had his first solo break in 1972 with his album Understanding, with some hit singles including "Woman's Gotta Have It" and "Harry Hippie." He remade his own tune "Lookin' for a Love" in 1974 and it hit #1 on the R&B charts, and #10 on the Billboard Hot 100. In the 1980s, Womack's career took a backseat to his drug addiction, but he sobered up in the 1990s and released his 20th album, Resurrection, which featured his brothers as background singers, a duet with Ronald Isley and background work from Rod Stewart and Keith Richards.
Womack had a complicated and tumultuous personal life, married twice, fathered five sons and a daughter; he lost two sons and a brother while he was alive.
In 2009, Bobby Womack was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Womack died after a lengthy series of illnesses in 2014.