The career of the great Bobby Womack spanned many generations, styles and roles...from the doo-wop with his brothers in The Valentinos to session work with everybody from the Rolling Stones to Sam Cooke. He was a major influence on Jimi Hendrix. He was a left-handed guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, producer, soundtrack composer (Across 110th St is a classic!), label head...you have certainly heard the work of Bobby beyond the few songs of his on oldies radio.
Just a SMALL sampling of artists he collaborated with include Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, Sly & the Family Stone, Gabor Szabo, Joe Tex, Wilson Pickett, Mos Def, Janis Joplin, Van Morrison, King Curtis, Allen Toussaint, Stevie Wonder, Gorillaz, Snoop Dogg, the Box Tops, New Birth, Rod Stewart, Patti LaBelle, Bill Withers, Eric Clapton and so many more. His life had a lot of personal ups & downs (he's got a memoir available) but he created a huge legacy with hundreds of songs and collabs that spanned soul, funk, rock, gospel, doo-wop, country, rap, blues and cinematic themes.
He was from Cleveland and sang gospel with the family as a youth. A 1953 gig with the Soul Stirrers put Bobby into Sam Cooke's orbit. The brothers joined Cooke out in Los Angeles and recorded some R&B and gospel sides for Cooke's SAR label in the early '60s. Soon after, they were renamed The Valentinos. Their '64 tune "It's All Over Now" was a monster hit for the Stones. By this point Womack was playing guitar in Cooke's band when tragedy struck with the death of Cooke. In a questionable move, Womack married Cooke's widow, causing scandal in the music community.
He was a frequent composer for Wilson Pickett, including "I'm A Midnight Mover". He also wrote "Breezin", a huge smash hit for George Benson. And "You're Welcome, Stop On By" stands as one of my favorites. Even with (or perhaps sometimes because of) all this money and success, he withstood major tragedies and problems. Besides the death of his friend Cooke, his brother Harry was murdered in Bobby's house and Bobby went through major drug addiction. His son also died as an infant. His attempt at hitting the country music charts didn't go to plan as his BW Goes C&W flopped. (Original working title: Step Aside Charley Pride, Give Another Nigger A Try).
He had some hits in the '80s but laid low for the most part in the '90s and 2000s, returning to the public eye sporadically while dealing with health issues.
Here's The Valentinos' OG version of "It's All Over Now", penned by Bobby and covered later the same year by the Rolling Stones, a major hit.
Here's the 1970 original of "Breezin", a later smash for Benson but co-composed by Womack and Szabo. Womack plays 2nd guitar:
Bobby wrote this one for Pearl:
I like the movie, but I LOVE the tune:
Bobby goes country:
Bobby contributing vocals to Rae & Christian:
And perhaps my favorite: