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Sat, 03.04.1944

Bobby Womack, Soul Singer born

Bobby Womack

*Bobby Womack was born on this date in 1944. He was a Black singer, producer, and composer.

From Cleveland, Ohio, Bobby Dwayne Womack was raised in a strict and religious home. Still, his father, Friendly, encouraged his sons to pursue music as he had (he sang and played guitar in a gospel group).  In the early '50s, while still a child, Bobby joined his siblings Cecil, Curtis, Harry, and Friendly Jr. to form the gospel quintet, the Womack Brothers. They were chosen to open a local show for the Soul Stirrers in 1953, where Bobby got to know lead singer Sam Cooke; following this break, they toured the country as an opening act for many gospel groups.

When Cooke built his own SAR label, he recruited the Womack Brothers intending to transform them into a crossover R&B act.  Learning that his sons were moving into secular music, Friendly Womack threw them out of the house. Cooke wired them the money to buy a car, and they drove to Los Angeles. The Womack Brothers made several recordings for SAR in 1960 and 1961, including a few gospel songs. Cooke convinced them to record R&B and renamed them the Valentinos.  In 1962, they had a Top Ten hit on the R&B charts with "Lookin' for a Love," they then hit the road behind James Brown to cut their teeth in musical apprenticeship.

Bobby Womack eventually joined Cooke's backup band as a guitarist. He wrote Valentino's 1964 single "It's All Over Now," which was quickly done by the Rolling Stones with Cooke's blessing; when it became the Stones' first U.K. number one, Womack suddenly had some money.  Personal problems and his inability to adjust to the changing music scene (particularly the rise of disco) left Womack virtually irrelevant in the latter 70s, and by 1980 it appeared he was going to be an oldies artist.  However, he signed with the fledgling Beverly Glen label and released 1982's The Poet, a surprise #1 album and Womack's best LP in years.  Soul Music lovers found solace in Womack's seven-minute masterpiece, "If You Think You're Lonely Now," and the follow-up single, "Where Do We Go From Here." Unfortunately, the fallout with Beverly Glen led to a two-year delay before he released The Poet II. While not as strong as the earlier album, Poet II included a great duet with Patti LaBelle, "Love Has Finally Come At Last," which hit Soul #3.

He recorded the next year again with the album So Many Rivers and its haunting hit single, "I Wish He Didn't Trust Me So Much." Womack continued to record periodically over the next decade, releasing good material through the mid-90s. Then, after nearly a half-decade break, in 1999, Womack cut two discs, a Christmas CD called Traditions and his first Gospel CD, the critically acclaimed Back to My Roots.

Womack was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009. In 2013, he revealed to BBC 6 music that he had early signs of Alzheimer's disease. Bobby Womack died on June 27th, 2014.

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