Womack’s song, “It’s All Over Now” was recorded by The Rolling Stones, and gave them their first UK number one.
Born the third of five brothers in a musical family, Womack started singing in the church where his father was minister and his mother played the organ. His father also played guitar, and forbade his children from playing the instrument when he was away. Bobby and his brothers showed prodigious musical talent, and so their father bought Bobby a guitar and formed The Womack Brothers. The group toured the gospel circuit, with their parents accompanying them on guitar and organ. In 1954 the group, performing as Curtis Womack and the Womack Brothers, released the single, “Buffalo Bill”.
Sam Cooke discovered the group in 1956, and soon became their mentor. After changing their name to The Valentinos, Cooke produced and arranged, “Looking for a Love”, written by Bobby. It became their first hit, and brought them to the attention of James Brown. 1964 saw their next hit, “It’s All Over Now”. Cooke persuaded Bobby to allow The Rolling Stones to cover it. Speaking on BBC Newsnight in 2012, Womack said,
“He said, ‘One day you’ll be part of history, this group is gonna be huge,’
“I said, ‘Why don’t they get their own songs?’ “
The Valentinos folded following Cooke’s death in December 1964. Losing Cooke had hit Bobby particularly hard, and he grew close to Cooke’s widow, Barbara, 10 years his senior. Marrying only three months after Cooke’s funeral, it was seen by many as a betrayal, with Bobby falling out with his brothers, was severely beaten up by Barbara’s brother, and was booed at concerts. His first solo records were all but ignored. He persevered however, working as a session musician between 1965-1968, and played guitar on recordings by Elvis Presley (Suspicious Minds), Arethea Franklin (Rock Steady), Dusty Springfield (Son of a Preacher Man), the Box Tops (The Letter) and Wilson Pickett (I’m a Midnight Mover).
From 1970-90, Womack charted 36 singles including “That’s the Way I Feel About Cha” and “Woman’s Gotta Have It”.
Womack struggled with drug addiction throughout the 1980s, but sobered up in the 1990s, releasing his album, “Resurrection”, which included a collaboration with The Roots.
In 2009 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame, and his career received another boost the following year when he contributed to the Gorillaz album, Plastic Beach.
The singer had a number of health issues, ncluding diabetes, prostate cancer, heart trouble, colon cancer and pneumonia, but was still recording up until his death, with a new album under the working title, “The Best is Yet to Come” set to be released.
Only two weeks ago the singer was on stage at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester Tennessee. Watch the legend perform at Glastonbury last year: