The raspy, sexy voice behind some of the most soulful and recognizable songs of the past six decades is now gone.
Legendary soul singer Bobby Womack died Friday at the age of 70.
Womack’s career started before he was 10 and he was most noted for penning such hits as “That’s the Way I feel About Cha” and “Across 110th Street.”
He also wrote The Rolling Stones’ first U.S. No. 1 hit, “It’s All Over Now.”
Last year, he revealed to BBC 6 music that he had early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Womack’s diagnosis came after several other health issues including pneumonia, diabetes, and colon cancer.
Bobby Dwayne Womack was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1944. His father sang gospel — and young Bobby followed in his father’s musical footsteps.
“We came up very poor. My kids have had a much better life than I’d ever thought of livin’,” Womack said on his website.
By age 10, Womack and his four brothers — Friendly Jr., Cecil, Harry and Curtis — formed The Womack Brothers. They started touring the gospel circuit when in 1953 they had an encounter that would change their life. The Womack Brothers met Soul Stirrers lead singer Sam Cooke. After The Womack Brothers changed their name to the Valentinos, Cooke signed them to his SAR Records label, and the Valentinos’ success took off with the hit “Lookin’ for a Love.” But in 1964, Cooke was shot to death at a Los Angeles motel. Four months later, Womack married Cooke’s widow.
That same year, The Rolling Stones covered Womack’s “It’s All Over Now” — and scored their first No. 1 hit in the United States making Womack a very rich man and sought after talent.
He broke off into a solo career, which took off in 1967 with his first song “Trust Me.”
His song “Across 110th Street” became a hit in 1972 and rode a new wave of popularity in 1997 when it was featured in the opening credits of Quentin Tarantino’s film “Jackie Brown.”The soul singer cut a wide path through the music business as a performer and songwriter in a career that spanned seven decades. Womack was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009, long after he’d lost his fortune and his career to addiction.
He spoke of kicking his substance abuse problems in a 2012 interview with the Associated Press and all the friends he’d lost to drugs over the years.
“I think the biggest move for me was to get away from the drug scene,” Womack said. “It wasn’t easy. It was hard because everybody I knew did drugs. … They didn’t know when to turn it off. So for me looking at Wilson Pickett, close friends of mine, Sly Stone, Jim Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and I can go on and on and on, and I say all of them died because of drugs.”
Many of his songs were recorded by others, often with greater success than his own renditions. Janis Joplin included “Trust Me” on her album “Pearl,” the J. Geils Band recorded “Lookin’ for a Love,” which reached the Top 40 in 1972, and Pickett recorded “I’m a Midnight Mover” and 16 other Womack songs.