Bobby Womack, the soul legend who had once worked with Sam Cooke, had a song become a hit for the Rolling Stones, and delivered soul classics of his own, passed away at the age of 70. The singer’s record label XL Recordings confirmed the news, but the cause of death is currently unknown.
While he never quite as popular as other soul legends such as Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder or Marvin Gaye, Womack’s career spanned seven decades, beginning with his family group the Womack Brothers (which included brothers, Friendly, Curtis, Harry and Cecil), later christened the Valentinos by Sam Cooke. Their first two hits were “Looking for a Love” and “It’s All Over Now” (the latter becoming a hit for the Rolling Stones).
Womack went solo in 1967, three years after the Valentinos disbanded following Cooke’s tragic death. He wrote and played guitar for artists including Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and Janis Joplin. He scored his first hit with a soulful cover of the Mamas & the Papas’ “California Dreamin” and co-wrote the instrumental “Breezin”, which became a hit for George Benson. His career truly took off in the early 1970s, as Womack scored a string of R&B hits including “That’s the Way I Feel About Cha”, “Woman’s Gotta Have It”, “Across 110th Street” and “Harry Hippie”.
Womack solo career slowed during the late 1970s, but picked up in 1981 with the signature tune “If You Think You’re Lonely Now”, as well as the Patti LaBelle duet “Love Has Finally Come at Last.” Later successes would include collaborations with younger artists including Blur frontman Damon Albarn, groups Gorillaz and the Roots, and a critically acclaimed 2012 album The Bravest Man in the Universe.
Womack’s legacy had definitely remained strong. Other artists who have covered his work or referenced the singer in other songs include Jodeci’s K-Ci Hailey, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey and Gerald LeVert. His music have been heaed in various films including Jackie Brown, American Gangster and Meet the Parents. In 2009, Ron Wood inducted Womack into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.