A veteran who paid his dues for over a decade before getting his shot at solo stardom, Bobby Womack persevered through tragedy and addiction to emerge as one of soul music's great survivors. Able to shine in the spotlight as a singer or behind the scenes as an instrumentalist and songwriter, Womack never got his due from pop audiences, but during the late '60s and much of the '70s, he was a consistent hitmaker on the R & B charts, with a high standard of quality control. His records were quintessential soul, with a bag of tricks learned from the likes of Sam Cooke, Wilson Pickett, and Sly Stone, all of whom Womack worked closely with at one time or another. Yet often, they also bore the stamp of Womack's own idiosyncratic personality, whether through a lengthy spoken philosophical monologue or a radical reinterpretation of a pop standard. An underrated guitarist, Womack helped pioneer a lean, minimalist approach similar to that of Curtis Mayfield, and was an early influence on the young Jimi Hendrix. Additionally, his songs have been recorded by numerous artists in the realms of both R & B and rock, and the best of them rank as all-time classics.

Bobby Dwayne Womack was born in Cleveland on March 4, 1944. His upbringing was strict and religious, but his father Friendly also encouraged his sons to pursue music as he had (he sang and played guitar in a gospel group). In the early '50s, while still a child, Bobby joined his siblings Cecil, Curtis, Harry, and Friendly Jr. to form the gospel quintet the Womack Brothers. They were chosen to open a local show for the Soul Stirrers in 1953, where Bobby befriended lead singer Sam Cooke; following this break, they toured the country as an opening act for numerous gospel groups. When Cooke formed his own SAR label, he recruited the Womack Brothers with an eye toward transforming them into a crossover R & B act. Learning that his sons were moving into secular music, Friendly Womack threw them out of the house, and Cooke wired them the money to buy a car and drive out to his Los Angeles offices. the Womack Brothers made several recordings for SAR over 1960 and 1961, including a few gospel sides, but Cooke soon convinced them to record R & B and renamed them the Valentinos. In 1962, they scored a Top Ten hit on the R & B charts with "Lookin' for a Love," and Cooke sent them on the road behind James Brown to serve a boot-camp-style musical apprenticeship. Bobby eventually joined Cooke's backing band as guitarist. the Valentinos' 1964 single "It's All Over Now," written by Bobby, was quickly covered by the Rolling Stones with Cooke's blessing; when it became the Stones' first U.K. number one, Womack suddenly found himself a rich man.

Cooke's tragic death in December 1964 left Womack greatly shaken and the Valentinos' career in limbo. Just three months later, Womack married Cooke's widow, Barbara Campbell, which earned him tremendous ill will in the R & B community; many viewed him as a shady opportunist looking to cash in on Cooke's legacy, especially since Campbell was significantly older than Womack. According to Womack, he was initially motivated to look after Campbell in an unstable time, not to tarnish the memory of a beloved mentor. Regardless, Womack found himself unable to get his solo career rolling in the wake of the scandal; singles for Chess ("I Found a True Love") and Him ("Nothing You Can Do") were avoided like the plague despite their quality. the Valentinos cut a couple of singles for Chess in 1966, "What About Me" and "Sweeter Than the Day Before," which also failed to make much of a splash. To make ends meet, Womack became a backing guitarist, first landing a job with Ray Charles; he went on to make a valuable connection in producer Chips Moman, and appeared often at Moman's American Studio in Memphis, as well as nearby Muscle Shoals, Alabama. In the process, Womack appeared on classic recordings by the likes of Joe Tex, King Curtis, and Aretha Franklin (Lady Soul), among others. He recorded singles for Keymen and Atlantic without success, but became one of Wilson Pickett's favorite songwriters, contributing the R & B Top Ten hits "I'm in Love" and "I'm a Midnight Mover" (plus 15 other tunes) to the singer's repertoire.

Womack had been slated to record a solo album for Minit, but had given Pickett most of his best material, which actually wound up getting his name back in the public eye in a positive light. In 1968, he scored the first charting single of his solo career with "What Is This?" and soon hit with a string of inventively reimagined pop covers -- "Fly Me to the Moon," "California Dreamin'," and "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," the former two of which reached the R & B Top 20. A songwriting partnership with engineer Darryl Carter resulted in the R & B hits "It's Gonna Rain," "How I Miss You Baby," and "More Than I Can Stand" over 1969-1970. A series of label absorptions bumped Womack up to United Artists in 1971, which proved to be the home of his greatest solo success; in the meantime, he contributed the ballad "Trust Me" to Janis Joplin's masterpiece Pearl, and the J. Geils Band revived "Lookin' for a Love" for their first hit. He also teamed up with jazz guitarist Gabor Szabo on the LP High Contrast, which debuted Womack's composition "Breezin'" (which, of course, became a smash for George Benson six years later). Most importantly, however, Womack played guitar on Sly & the Family Stone's There's a Riot Goin' On, a masterpiece of darkly psychedelic funk that would have an impact on Womack's own sound and sense of style.

Womack issued his first UA album, Communication, in 1971, which kicked off a string of excellent releases that ran through the first half of the decade. In addition to several of Womack's trademark pop covers, the album also contained the original ballad "That's the Way I Feel About 'Cha," which climbed all the way to number two on the R & B chart and became his long-awaited breakout hit. The 1972 follow-up Understanding spawned Womack's first chart-topper, "Woman's Gotta Have It," co-written with Darryl Carter and stepdaughter Linda (Womack divorced Barbara Campbell in 1970). The follow-up "Harry Hippie," a gently ironic tribute to Womack's brother, also hit the R & B Top Ten. Later that year, Womack scored the blaxploitation flick Across 110th Street; the title cut was later revived in the 1998 Quentin Tarantino film Jackie Brown. Released in 1973, The Facts of Life had an R & B number two hit in a rearrangement of the perennial "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out," and the following year's Lookin' for a Love Again found Womack revisiting his Valentinos hit; the re-recorded "Lookin' for a L ove" became his second number one R & B single and his only Top Ten hit on the pop charts. Follow-up single "You're Welcome, Stop on By" made the R & B Top Five.

Womack was by this time a seasoned veteran of the rock & roll lifestyle, having befriended the likes of the Rolling Stones, the late Janis Joplin, and Sly Stone. After his brother Harry was murdered by a jealous girlfriend in 1974 (in Bobby's own apartment), the drug usage began to take a more serious turn. Womack scored further R & B Top Ten hits with 1975's "Check It Out" and 1976's "Daylight," the latter of which seemed to indicate a longing for escape from the nonstop partying that often masked serious depression. Despite Womack's new marriage to Regina Banks, the song was a sign that things were coming to a head. Womack pushed UA into letting him do a full album of country music, something he'd always loved but which the label regarded as commercially inadvisable (especially under the title Womack reportedly wanted to use: Step Aside, Charley Pride, Give Another Nigger a Try). They eventually relented, and when BW Goes C&W met with predictably minimal response, UA palmed the increasingly difficult Womack off on Columbia. A pair of albums there failed to recapture his commercial momentum or reinvent him for the disco age, and he moved to Arista for 1979's Roads of Life, which appeared not long after the sudden death of his infant son.

At a low point in his life, Womack took a bit of time off from music to gather himself. He appeared as a guest vocalist on Jazz Crusader Wilton Felder's 1980 solo album, Inherit the Wind, singing the hit title track, and subsequently signed with black entrepreneur Otis Smith's independent Beverly Glen label. His label debut, 1981's The Poet, was a critically acclaimed left-field hit, rejuvenating his career and producing a number three R & B hit with "If You Think You're Lonely Now." Unfortunately, money disputes soured the relationship between Womack and Smith rather quickly. The Poet II was delayed until 1984, and featured several duets with Patti LaBelle, including another number three R & B hit, "Love Has Finally Come at Last." Beverly Glen released a final LP culled from Womack's previous sessions, Someday We'll All Be Free, in 1985, by which time the singer had already broken free and signed with MCA. Another hit with Wilton Felder, "(No Matter How High I Get) I'll Still Be Looking Up to You," appeared that year, and his label debut, So Many Rivers, produced a Top Five R & B hit in "I Wish He Didn't Trust Me So Much." Released in 1986, Womagic reunited Womack with Chips Moman, and he also backed the Rolling Stones on their remake of "Harlem Shuffle." By the following year he'd christened himself The Last Soul Man, which proved to be his final recording for MCA.

In the years since, Womack has made high-profile returns to the music business only sporadically. Released in 1994, Resurrection was recorded for Ron Wood's Slide label and featured an array of guest stars including Wood, Keith Richards, Rod Stewart, and Stevie Wonder. In 1999, he fulfilled a longstanding promise to his father (who passed away in 1981) by delivering his first-ever gospel album, Back to My Roots. While he continued to perform throughout the following decade, his guest appearance on the 2010 Gorillaz album Plastic Beach seemed like a return. A couple years later, after being the subject of TV One's Unsung documentary series, he released The Bravest Man in the Universe, a collaboration with the XL label's Richard Russell and Gorillaz's Damon Albarn.

Bobby Womack passed away of unknown causes on June 27, 2014.  He will truly be missed.

-- All Music Guide, Steve Huey


Bobby Womack's Official Page Offcial Bobby Womack Page
The R&B Page's 'Bobby Womack The R&B Page's 'Bobby Womack
Bobby Womack's Wikipedia Page Wikipedia


If you think you're lonely now If You're Lonely Now
When the Weekend Comes When the Weekend Comes
I wish he didn't trust me so much I Wish He Didn't Trust Me So Much
Harry Hippie Harry Hippie


The Bravest Man In The Universe 2012
Masters 1999
At Home In Muscle Shoals 1998
Only Survivor: The MCA Years 1996
Midnight Mover-Collection 1993
I Wanna Make Love To You 1988
I Still Love You 1987
Poet II 1984
Poet 1981
Roads Of Life 1979
Looking For A Love (1968-75) 1976
Facts Of Life 1973
Understanding 1972
Communication 1971
Fly Me to the Moon 1969
Womack Live 1968



The Bravest Man in the World

01. The Bravest Man in the Universe
02. Please Forgive My Heart
03. Deep River
04. Dayglo Reflection
05. Whatever Happened to the Times
06. Stupid Introlude
07. Stupid
08. If There Wasn't Something There
09. Love Is Gonna Lift You Up
10. Nothin' Can Save Ya
11. Jubilee (Don't Let Nobody Turn You Around)

Masters 1999

01. Lookin' For A Love
02. It's All Over Now
03. Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words)
04. California Dreamin'
05. I Left My Heart In San Francisco
06. Harry Hippie
07. Sweet Caroline (Good Time Never Seemed So Good)
08. Across 110th Street
09. Love Has Finally Come At Last
10. It's Gonna Rain
11. How I Miss You Baby
12. The Preacher
13. More Than I Could Stand
14. You're Welcome, Stop On By
15. All Along The Watchtower
16. Just My Imagination
17. Tell Me Why
18. Check It Out
19. Where There's A Will, There's A Way
20. I'm A Midnight Mover

At Home In Muscle Shoals 1998

01. Standing In The Safety Zone
02. Trust Your Heart
03. Stop Before We Start
04. We've Only Just Begun
05. Home Is Where The Heart Is
06. Just A Little Bit Salty
07. When Love Begins Friendship Ends
08. Never Let Nothing Get The Best Of You
09. Caught Up In The Middle
10. Is This The Thanks I Get
11. One More Chance On Love
12. A Change Is Gonna Come
13. How Long (Has This Been Goin' On)
14. It's Party Time
15. Something For My Head


Only Survivor: The MCA Years 1996

01. I Wish He Didn't Trust Me So Much
02. (I Wanna) Make Love To You
03. That's Where It's At
04. The Truth Song
05. Let Me Kiss You Where It Hurts
06. A Woman Likes To Hear That
07. So Many Rivers
08. A World Where No One Cries
09. Living In A Box
10. I Ain't Go To Love Nobody Else
11. When The Weekend Comes
12. Only Survivor
13. Inherit The Wind
14. I'll Still Be Lookin' Up To You

Midnight Mover-Collection 1993

Disc 1
01. I'm A Midnight Mover
02. Broadway Walk
03. What Is This
04. I'm In Love
05. Somebody Special
06. What You Gonna Do (When Your Love Is Gone)
07. How I Miss You Baby
08. More Than I Can Stand
09. I Can't Take It Like A Man
10. Laughing And Clowning (Live)
11. It's Gonna Rain
12. Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words)
13. I Left My Heart In San Francisco
14. Arkansas State Prison
15. Come L'Amore
16. (If You Don't Want My Love) Give It Back
17. That's The Way I Feel About Cha
18. Communication
19. I Can Understand It
20. Woman's Gotta Have It
21. Sweet Caroline (Good Times Never Seemed So Good)
22. Harry Hippie
23. The Preacher/More Than I Can Stand (Live)
Disc 2
01. Nobody Wants You When You're Down And Out
02. Across 110th Street
03. Fact Of Life/He'll Be There When The Sun Goes Down
04. I'm Through Trying To Prove My Love To You
05. If You Can't Give Her Love
06. Holdin' On To My Baby's Love
07. That's Heaven To Me
08. Lookin' For A Love
09. I Don't Wanna Be Hurt By Ya Again
10. You're Welcome, Stop On By
11. Interlude #1/I Don't Know
12. Put Something Down On It
13. Check It Out
14. It's All Over Now
15. Tarnished Rings
16. Trust In Me
17. Everything's Gonna Be Alright
18. Where There's A Will, There's A Way
19. Love Ain't Something You Can Get For Free
20. Daylight
21. Jealous Love


I Wanna Make Love To You 1988

01. (I Wanna) Make Love To You
02. The Things We Do (When We're Lonely)
03. I Can't Stay Mad
04. Can'tcha Hear The Children Calling
05. Outside Myself
06. I Ain't Got To Love Nobody Else
07. More Than Love
08. When The Weekend Comes
09. Gypsy Woman
10. Let Me Kiss It Where It Hurts

I Still Love You 1987

01. Living In A Box
02. When The Weekend Comes
03. I Still Love You
04. Falling In Love Again
05. A Woman Likes To Hear That
06. Real Love Please Stand Up
07. The Things We Do (When We're Lonely)
08. Gina
09. I Wish He Didn't Trust Me So Much
10. Got To Be With You Tonight

Poet II 1984

01. Love Has Finally Come At Last
02. It Takes A Lot Of Strength To Say Goodbye
03. Through The Eyes Of A Child
04. Surprise, Surprise
05. Tryin' To Get Over You
06. Tell Me Why
07. Who's Foolin' Who
08. I Wish I Had Someone To Go Home To
09. American Dream


Poet 1981

01. So Many Sides Of You
02. Lay Your Lovin' On Me
03. Secrets
04. Just My Imagination
05. Stand Up
06. Games
07. If You Think You're Lonely Now
08. Where Do We Go From Here

Roads Of Life 1979

01. The Roads Of Life
02. How Could You Break My Heart
03. Honey Dripper Boogie
04. The Roots In Me
05. What Are You Doin'
06. Give It Up
07. Mr. D.J. Don't Stop The Music
08. I Honestly Love You


Looking For A Love (1968-75) 1976

01. What Is This?
02. How I Miss You Baby
03. More Than I Can Stand
04. I'm Gonna Forget About You
05. That's The Way I Feel About 'Cha
06. Woman's Gotta Have It
07. Harry Hippie
08. Across 110th Street
09. Nobody Wants You When You're Down And Out
10. Lookin' For A Love
11. You're Welcome, Stop On By
12. Check It Out
13. It's All Over Now
14. Daylight

Facts Of Life 1973

01. Nobody Wants You When You're Down and Out
02. I'm Through Trying To Prove My Love to You
03. If You Can't Give Her Love Give Her Up
04. That's Heaven To Me
05. Holdin' On To My Baby's Love/Nobody
06. Fact Of Life/He'll Be There
07. Can't Stop A Man In Love
08. The Look Of Love
09. Natural Man
10. All Along The Watchtower

Understanding 1972

01. I Can Understand It
02. Woman's Gotta Have It
03. And I Love Her
04. Got To Get You Back
05. Simple Man
06. Ruby Dean
07. Thing Called Love
08. Sweet Caroline
09. Harry Hippie


Communication 1971

01. Communication
02. Come L'amore
03. Fire And Rain
04. (If You Don't Want My Love) Give It Back
05. Medley: Monologue/(They Long To Be) Close To You
06. Everything Is Beautiful
07. That's The Way I Feel About Cha
08. Yield Not To Temptation

Fly Me to the Moon 1969

01. Fly Me to the Moon AKA in Other Words
02. Baby, You Oughta Think It Over
03. I'm a Midnight Mover
04. What Is This
05. Somebody Special
06. Take Me
07. Moonlight in Vermont
08. Love, the Time Is Now
09. I'm in Love
10. California Dreamin'
11. No Money in My Pocket
12. Lillie Mae

Womack Live 1968

1. Intro
2. How I Miss You Baby
3. California Dreamin'
4. Something
5. Everybody's Talkin'
6. Laughing and Clowning/To Live the Past
7. I'm a Midnight Mover
8. The Preacher
9. More Than I Can Stand


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