Bobby Womack, influential R&B singer-songwriter with a career that spanned six decades, died on Friday, his publicist says. He had performed earlier this month at the Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee.
As the Associated Press reports, Womack was born in Cleveland, Ohio and spent his youth singing gospel with his brothers in a group called Curtis Womack and The Womack Brothers. Through the influence of recording artist Sam Cooke, who signed The Womack Brothers to his label, Bobby Womack became interested in secular music. His first hit with the Womack Brothers—after they changed their name to The Valentinos—was "It's All Over Now," which was famously covered by The Rolling Stones.
Three months after the death of Cooke in 1964, Womack married Cooke's widow, Barbara Campbell, and the Valentinos disbanded after the collapse of SAR Records. After leaving the group, Womack became a session musician, playing guitar on several albums, including Aretha Franklin's landmark Lady Soul, before releasing his debut album, Fly Me to the Moon, in 1968. A string of successful R&B albums would follow, including Understanding and Across 110th Street, both released in 1972, 1973's Facts of Life and 1974's Lookin for a Love Again.
Womack had a challenging last few years, being diagnosed with Alzheimer's two years earlier, and overcoming drug addiction. According to the Associated Press, Womack struggled with and beat both prostate and colon cancer in his life.
Womack's publicist did not reveal the cause of his death. The singer-songwriter was working on an album for XL Recordings when he died, which reportedly featured contributions by Stevie Wonder, Rod Stewart, and Snoop Dogg.
[Image via AP]