TRIBUTES have been paid to the soul legend Bobby Womack who has passed away at the age of 70.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Mr. Womack became a major influence on a generation of musicians but his musical talents were almost stifled by his father. He had sternly warned his son not to waste his time learning to play the guitar. His father, who had supplemented his wages from the local steel works by working as a barber at weekends, had been given the instrument in payment for a haircut.
The young Womack ignored the warning and during one summer spent hours, while his dad was at work, teaching himself to play the guitar.
His father did approve of gospel music and encouraged Bobby and his bothers to sing together. They later signed a record deal at the beginning of the 1960s and as The Valentinos recorded several R&B albums.
After the family outfit broke up, Mr. Womack embarked on a successful solo career. Between 1970 and 1990 he had chart hits with more that 30 singles, including That’s The Way I Feel About Cha and Woman’s Gotta Have It. He also appeared as a session guitarist on recordings with the likes of Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Dusty Springfield.
His songwriting talents also attracted the attention of other performers. But Mr. Womack was at first reluctant to embrace this concept of others recording his work. When a young group of musicians wanted to record his song It’s All Over Now his first reaction was: “Why don’t they get their own songs?”
But his friend Sam Cooke said the group was “gonna be huge” so Mr. Womack finally agreed that the Rolling Stones could go ahead with the recording!
Over the years, his songs were recorded by a number of singers, including Wilson Pickett and Janis Joplin.
Following the deaths of two sons, Mr. Womack experienced problems with drugs and spent a long period away from the music industry. But he battled back and began performing again. In 2009 he was asked by Damon Albarn to record a song for the Gorillaz’ third album. That same year he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Three years later Mr. Womack released his album The Bravest Man In The Universe (see below).
In recent months, Mr. Womack had been suffering from cancer and had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
To see footage of Mr. Womack performing Deep River from the album The Bravest Man In The Universe, click here.
To view an excerpt from an interview with Mr. Womack, click here.
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