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Bobby Womack, R&B singer- songwriter, dies at 70

Bobby Womack dies at 70


Bobby Womack, a colorful and highly influential R&B singer-songwriter who influenced artists from the Rolling Stones to Damon Albarn, has died. He was 70.

Womack's publicist Sonya Kolowrat said Friday that the singer had died, but she could provide no other details.

With an incomparable voice few could match, Womack was a stirring singer and guitarist in his own right and a powerful songwriter whose hits like "Across 110th Street," ''If You Think You're Lonely Now" and "I Wish He Didn't Trust Me So Much" captured the imagination of future stars in rock 'n' roll and R&B.

"He had a style that nobody else could ever capture," longtime friend, gospel singer Candi Staton, said in a statement. "I loved him and I will miss him so, so very much."

Womack's death comes as something of a surprise. Though he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease two years ago and overcame addiction and multiple health issues, including prostate and colon cancer, recently, he seemed in good health and spirits when he performed earlier this month at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival.

He told the BBC in 2013 the Alzheimer's diagnosis came after he began having difficulty remembering his songs and the names of people he had worked with.

And there have been many. 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."

According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website, Womack was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and sang gospel music at a young age, performing with his brothers in The Womack Brothers. Under the influence of gospel and R&B legend Sam Cooke, who signed the group to his personal label, Womack moved into secular music. In the early 1960s his group recorded "It's All Over Now," which was covered and by the Stones and became the band's first number-one hit.

His songs have been recorded by multiple artists, and he played as a session musician in Memphis in the 1960s.

Albarn and XL Recordings president Richard Russell helped Womack regain his career with 2012 comeback album "The Bravest Man in the Universe." The album was a departure for Womack, full of electronic music and beats. But it was lauded by critics for a simple reason: That distinctive voice of his still brought chills.

"I don't think he ever really thought that he would do anything again," Albarn said of Womack in March. "Watching his rehabilitation and watching his ability to confront new material and new challenges was nothing short of miraculous at the time, and he still today continues to battle his demons and his illness. But he's a beautiful person and when he opens his mouth and that voice comes out, it is something that is somehow touched by God."


AP Music Writer Mesfin Fekadu in New York and Don Schanche contributed to this report.

Join the discussion

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Minister Zee June 28 2014 at 12:15 PM

I agree with whomever made the statement about rock artists who die and I personally do not disrespect or dismiss them because I "never heard of them"...in fact, I decline to get onto threads about them, but feel a sense of loss, especially if they are older because it means another piece of the fabric of our music has gone away. Thank God my parents did not limit my musical choices. I know and love various genres, which has kept me open to new things all of my life.
Mr Womack was a wonderfully raw talent and among many of his songs "If You Think You're Lonely Now" might just be one of my favorites. When the young folks get older and they lose ( God forbid) Lady GaGa and Drake...they will know how this feels. A chip of your era has gone away....and if the world keeps turning, you WILL get older. Hopefully your ignorance will have dissipated and you will have learned to either respect or at least to be quiet.

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3 replies
Lee's Sun June 28 2014 at 8:32 AM

Bye Bobby Womack....I loved your music, I have made love to your music, cried to it, daydreamed to it....anyone who didn't know your music missed out on a real fine thing.

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3 replies
dhumphrey57 June 28 2014 at 8:20 AM

I loved his music.

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kiick23 June 28 2014 at 10:18 AM

Never heard of him but I guess because he's black he deserves to be honored. Kind of like those on the academy who voted for 12 years a slave for best picture even though they never saw it.

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20 replies
Corrinna Annette June 28 2014 at 12:34 PM

Much love to you Bobby Womack, and thank you for the music. Now you can rest.

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dreamgirlnj2006 June 28 2014 at 11:03 AM

I'd never heard of quite a few 'rock stars' that have died recently, but that doesn't mean it's any less sad or that their contribution was any less important. How very ignorant for someone to say that, because he was black, that's why he's making news. Having listened to and been privileged to see Bobby Womack over the last 30 years, this truly is a sad day - Not just for black music (some people are so ignorant, but wtf... it's the internet) but for the music industry in general. LOVE YOU BOBBY!!!!!

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jcraft757 June 28 2014 at 9:55 AM

Godspeed, soul brother... Godspeed!!!

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spccowb June 28 2014 at 9:34 AM

I am really sad that Bobby has died. He wasn't that old. I'm only 6 years shy of 70 myself. It's not that old really.
I'm sad, because I knew of his art and so many music posers I've had to work with didn't have a clue.
Bobby Womach wrote "It's All over Now in 1964. The Stone recorded it a month after it was out. They were hungry for good material and that song is it. It's not just a 12 bar or 8 bar thang. It's a song, with a unique intro. It's a unique song it doesn't copy anybody, it gives everybody something to copy. And I was one of those copy cats. Meow! Proud to say it that at least I had the good tast to know good rock and roll when I hearit And that song is it. So DJs what are we spinning tonight coast to coast. It had better be Bobby. He wasn't that old!

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2 replies
Kate spccowb June 28 2014 at 12:08 PM

I agree and that was the first thing I said: too young. He'll certainly be all over the radio today.

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mikkinyc1 spccowb June 28 2014 at 2:10 PM

Isn't that the truth? That was the first thing I thought was, "OMG, he was so young!" These days it really is. Mark Lindsay (former lead singer of Paul Revere and the Raiders) is 72 and is still touring and put out a new CD last year called "Life Out Loud" that is just awesome. Anybody who enjoys awesome R&R, get that CD. Anyway, as I said in my comment, he will be missed.

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Dayna June 28 2014 at 11:03 AM

You are one of my favorite artist. My mood man. I had the pleasure of being in your company. Your music will live in. RIP........

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Dayna June 28 2014 at 11:05 AM

You are one of my favorite artist. When I was in a certain mood I always played your music. I had an opportunity to meet you and have a conversation with you I cherish that moment. Your music will last forever. RIP..........

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