In Memoriam | Soul Singer Bobby Womack 1944 – 2014

Soul singer and multi-instrumentalist Bobby Womack has died at age 70 today according to his label, XL Recordings, as per Rolling Stone. Womack has battled many health issues including diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease over the last few years, though at press time the cause of death hasn’t been confirmed.

Bobby Womack was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 2009 after a long and illustrious career in which he recorded 28 studio albums that spanned the worlds of gospel, soul and rock music. Womack, who was the lead singer of The Womack Brothers at the time, was discovered and mentored by Sam Cooke in the ’50s. Bobby and his four brothers rechristened the group as The Valentinos after signing with Cooke’s SAR Records. The singer and his sister-in-law Shirley penned “It’s All Over Now,” a song that was The Rolling Stones’ first #1 hit in America. The Valentinos had scored a minor hit with “It’s All Over Now,” before the Stones version took the charts by storm and made the original an afterthought.

The Cleveland native had his biggest commercial success in the ’70s, as a solo artist, when he recorded such hits as “That’s The Way I Feel About Cha,” “Lookin’ for a Love” and “Across 110th Street.” Bobby collaborated with Rolling Stones/Faces guitarist Ronnie Wood in 1975 for Wood’s Now Look solo effort.

Womack struggled through the late ’70s after the death of his brother, Harry, but then found success once more with his 1981 album The Poet, which included the hit “If You Think You’re Lonely Now.” In more recent years Bobby teamed with Mos Def to perform and contributed lyrics to “Stylo,” the first single off Gorillaz’s 2010 album Plastic Beach. The singer’s last album, The Bravest Man In The Universe came out in 2012.

In 2008 Aaron Kayce spoke with Bobby Womack for a JamBase feature. Womack spoke honestly about the many phases of his career. “I go through all of the ups and downs that everybody else do. If it’s losing somebody that’s very close to you, or if it’s being totally broke, or going into tax situations, all kind of problems,” said Womack. “But, when I walk out on that stage I become the other Bobby Womack. To see all of those people out there, they are here to do one thing -to forget about what’s been taking place in their lives. And I turn them on and they turn me on. That’s a major spiritual thing.”

Watch Bobby Womack perform “Stylo” with Mos Def & Gorillaz:

Here’s footage of Womack’s 1973 appearance on Soul Train: