The cycle of life is never ending as it marches on toward infinity. The unfortunate aspect that we all have to reckon with is death, especially when an influential practitioner returns to the Essence.
Friday June 29, soul singer and songwriter Bobby Womack died at the age of 70-years-old. Best known for such soulful classics as “Across 110th Street” and “If You Think You’re Lonely Now," he was a multicultural icon. Writing and originally recording The Rolling Stone’s first hit in the United Kingdom “It’s All Over Now,” Womack recorded with the legendary Sam Cooke as well.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1944, Womack was raised in a Baptist church where his mother was the organist and his father was a minister and musician. His first band was with family, The Womack Brothers, a group that toured on the gospel circuit until being found and signed by Sam Cooke.
Womack went on to play guitar on several of Aretha Franklin’s early hits, including “Lady Soul." He also wrote for Wilson Pickett and worked with Janis Joplin and Sly and the Family Stone. Despite his artistic accolades, like many soul singers of the '60s and '70s, Womack suffered from drug addiction in the mid-70s until eventually finding sobriety in the '90s.
With an influence spanning the length of his life, his classic song “If You Think You’re Lonely Now” was covered by the soul group Jodeci in 1994. Working to stay young and relevant, he recorded new music with Mos Def, the alternative rock group Gorillaz, and also performed with hip hop collective The Roots.
The late Gerald Levert and Mary J. Blige covered his single, “The Making of a Man” as well, but there were many others moved to sing the soulful and heartfelt musings of this prolific soul singer.
Womack's works have been featured in numerous films and contemporary works like Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown (1997), Meet the Parents (2000), Ali (2001) and American Gangster (2007).
Suffering from colon cancer later in life, Womack was declared cancer free in 2012. Battling diabetes, prostate cancer, and the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease, the cause of his death is at press time, currently unknown.
In a world where so many soul musicians adjust their style to fit the status quo of the mainstream, Bobby Womack forever stayed true to his roots. Although he will be missed, his presence and sound will live on among the legions of R&B, hip hop, country and blues musicians that he continued to inspire until the day he died.