Bobby Womack, the R&B and soul legend known for penning and/or recording hits like “That’s The Way I Feel About Cha,” “If You Think You’re Lonely Now” and “It’s All Over Now,” died on Friday. He was 70 years old.
A publicist for Womack’s label XL Recordings confirmed his death to media on Friday. Womack had suffered from a variety of health issues, including colon cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes and the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, but it is still unclear which of these ailments (if any) caused his death.
Womack spent nearly all of his 70 years making music, beginning early as part of his family’s gospel act The Womack Brothers. The band signed to Sam Cooke’s SAR Records in 1960, later changing their name to the Valentinos and moving into secular soul-pop. The act disbanded shortly after Cooke was shot and killed in 1964 and the label folded; meanwhile Womack, barely 20 years old, caused a stir by marrying Cooke’s widow three months after Cooke’s death.
Bobby Womack’s first real taste of success came when The Rolling Stones covered his song “It’s All Over Now,” just a month after the Valentinos released their version of it in 1964. The Stones’ version went to Number 1. Womack spent the next few years as a session musician before launching a successful solo career in the late 1960s—a season which yielded such hits as “Fly Me To the Moon,” “Woman’s Gotta Have It,” “Nobody Wants You When You’re Down and Out” and “Across 110th St.”
He experienced two comebacks during his career: in 1981, with his hit “If You Think You’re Lonely Now,” and in 2012 with the release of his highly acclaimed album The Bravest Man In the Universe. Much of his career slump during the 1980’s and 1990’s is blamed on substance abuse and drug addiction, for which Womack eventually went to rehab. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.
At the time of his death, Womack was still nurturing his recent career revival, in the midst of recording his tentatively titled album The Best Is Yet To Come for XL Recordings. His last live performance was two weeks ago at Bonnaroo.
RIP, Bobby Womack. You will be greatly missed.
(Photo: Bill Ebbesen/Wikimedia/Creative Commons)