Happy Birthday Bobby Womack: Performing ‘It’s All Over Now’ On ‘Letterman’ In 1985
Today marks what would have been Bobby Womack’s 77th birthday. Womack died on June 27, 2014. The highly influential singer-songwriter, producer and guitarist was born on March 4, 1944 in Cleveland. Bobby and his four brothers came from a musical family, with Bobby’s mother Naomi Womack playing organ in the church choir and his father Friendly Womack playing guitar when he wasn’t away at his job as a steelworker and part-time minister.
When Friendly Sr. was at work, he told his sons not to touch his guitar. “When he bought the guitar he said, ‘Don’t y’all ever touch this. This is the best piece of furniture we got,’” as Bobby recounts in a YouTube video on the making of the Gorillaz 2010 album Plastic Beach. But naturally, the boys played it when he was gone. Bobby once broke a string on the guitar and tried to replace it with a shoelace. His father came home and began playing before he noticed and offered Bobby the choice of showing off what he could play or more severe punishment. Bobby opted for the former, as he also shared in his 2006 autobiography, Midnight Mover.
Man, I played Andres Segovia, Elmore James and BB King. Even with one string short, I played classical music, soul, country and western, and rock’n’roll. I played my ass off. Every lick I knew and then some I didn’t. When I finished, Dad was in shock. He couldn’t believe how good I had got and he’d been real selfish holding on to that guitar for himself.
Recognizing their kids’ talent, Friendly Sr. and Naomi formed a band with their children called The Womack Brothers. The group caught the attention of Sam Cooke, who signed them to his newly minted SAR label in 1961. Cooke moved The Womack Brothers to Los Angeles and changed their name to The Valentinos, who had their first hit in 1962 with the song “Lookin’ For Love” and would subsequently tour with James Brown.
A few years later in 1964, Bobby and his sister-in-law Shirley Womack wrote the country-tinged, “It’s All Over Now,” which also became a hit for The Valentinos. The song caught the attention of The Rolling Stones when they heard it on their first North American tour in 1964. The Stones recorded “It’s All Over Now” and clocked their first No. 1 with the cover later that year.
“It’s All Over Now” would become an oft-covered song with artists like the Grateful Dead, Waylon Jennings, Rod Stewart, Widespread Panic and many more covering the tune over the decades. In 1985, Bobby Womack appeared on Late Night with David Letterman to support his album So Many Rivers. Although it doesn’t appear on the album, Womack performed “It’s All Over Now” with Paul Shaffer and the Late Night Band.
To celebrate Bobby Womack’s birthday, watch the legendary singer-songwriter and guitarist perform “It’s All Over Now” on Letterman below via the JamBase Live Video Archive: