DCS: bobby womack

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Singer/songwriter/musician Bobby Womack started off his career singing with his brothers as The Womack Brothers. They toured the country, accompanied by their mother and father on piano and guitar respectively.  The group caught the attention of singer Sam Cooke. Cooke became the band’s mentor and booked them on a national tour with The Staple Singers. Although led by Curtis Womack, Bobby would often sing alongside his brother, his raspy baritone making a unique contrast to Curtis’s smooth tenor.

In the early 1960’s, Cooke changed the group’s name to The Valentinos and produced and arranged their first hit “Looking for a Love.” The follow-up, “It’s All Over Now,” co-written by Bobby, was a hit as well and the group landed a supporting sport on the James Brown tour. “It’s All Over Now” was covered by The Rolling Stones while The Valentinos’ version was still climbing the R & B chart.

Then things got…. interesting.

In 1964, Sam Cooke was shot and killed at a southern California hotel. The music world was devastated, especially The Valentinos. However, just two months after Cooke’s death, Bobby began a romantic relationship with Barbara Cooke, Sam’s widow. Barbara was ten years Bobby’s senior. With Bobby wearing one of Sam’s suits, the couple attempted to get married, but their application was rejected by the Los Angeles courthouse because Bobby was under age. They returned on March 5, 1965 – one day after Bobby’s 21st birthday. They were granted a marriage license. The marriage ended in divorce after five years when Barbara discovered that Bobby was having an extra-marital affair… with Linda Cooke, his 17-year-old stepdaughter. An angered Barbara shot Bobby – the bullet merely grazing him – and Linda never spoke to her mother again.

In 1972, Bobby was gearing up to release Linda Cooke’s solo debut album, They co-wrote Bobby’s hit “Woman’s Gotta Have It.” Linda went on to marry Bobby’s younger brother Cecil. They teamed up and recorded as Womack & Womack.

Bobby worked and collaborated with such renowned and prestigious acts as Aretha Franklin, Sly and the Family Stone, Wilson Pickett, The Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin and many others. (Bobby was one of the last people to see Janis Joplin alive, visiting her at the Landmark Hotel on the afternoon of her death.) Into the 2000s, Bobby continued to work with a wide variety of artists including Steve Wonder, Snoop Dogg and Gorillaz.

He passed away at the age of 70, just one week after a live performance at the Bonnaroo Music Festival.



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