Saturday, June 28, 2014

RIP Bobby Womack

Rolling Stone reports that legendary soul singer Bobby Womack has passed away aged 70. His label XL Recordings has confirmed it.

Womack played a fantastic live concert in Auckland at the Civic in May 2013 He may have been moving slow, but his performance was pure soul. He had played here previously, in December 2010, as part of Damon Albarn's live extravaganza for The Gorillaz tour. Seeing Womack standing centre stage singing, surrounded on either side by Paul Simonon and Mick Jones of The Clash was something else.

Via Rolling Stone: "Three months after the death of [Sam] 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.

After the death of his brother, Harry, in 1974, Womack's career stalled, but was revived in 1981 with the R&B hit "If You Think You're Lonely Now." Throughout most of the Eighties, the singer struggled with drug addiction, eventually checking himself into a rehabilitation center for treatment.

A series of health problems would follow, including diabetes, pneumonia, colon cancer and the early signs of Alzheimer's disease [this turned out to be a mis-diagnosis - Womack did NOT have Alzheimers], though it was unclear if any of these ailments contributed to his death. Womack was declared cancer-free in 2012.

In 2012, Womack began a career renaissance with the release of The Bravest Man in the Universe, his first album in more than 10 years. Produced by Damon Albarn and XL's Richard Russell, the album made Rolling Stone's 50 Best Albums of 2012 alongside numerous other critical accolades. "You know more at 65 than you did at 25. I understand the songs much better now," Womack told Rolling Stone at the time. "It's not about 14 Rolls Royces and two Bentleys. Even if this album never sells a nickel, I know I put my best foot forward."

Upon his death, Womack was in the process of recording his next album for XL, tentatively titled The Best Is Yet to Come and reportedly featuring contributions by Stevie Wonder, Rod Stewart and Snoop Dogg."

More The Guardian on Bobby Womack
Wax Poetics: Bobby Womack is a thread that runs through soul music

ADDED July 11: via Facebook... A note from the Womack Family:

"We’d like to thank everyone for the support and love you have shown us in the days since the passing of our beloved Bobby on Friday June 27th. Bobby died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Tarzana, CA. The outpouring of appreciation and memories of Bobby have been heartwarming to see and he is definitely up there smiling because so many people loved the music he made.

A private memorial service for Bobby's family is happening this week in Los Angeles and plans are in the works for public tribute services at some point also in Los Angeles and hopefully in New York also. We will announce them as soon as we can. Thank you."

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