Robert Dwayne "Bobby" Womack (play /'wo?mæk/; born
March 4, 1944) is an American singer-songwriter and musician.
An active recording artist since the early 1960s where he started
his career as the lead singer of his family musical group The Valentinos
and as Sam Cooke's backing guitarist, Womack's career has spanned
more than 40 years and has spanned a repertoire in the styles of
R&B, soul, rock and roll, doo-wop, gospel, and country.
Womack wrote and originally recorded The Rolling Stones' first UK
No. 1 hit, "It's All Over Now" and New Birth's "I
Can Understand It" among other songs. As a singer he is most
notable for the hits "Lookin' For a Love", "That's
The Way I Feel About Cha", "Woman's Gotta Have It", "Harry
Hippie", "Across 110th Street" and his 1980s hit "If
You Think You're Lonely Now".
In 2009, Womack was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Womack was the third of five boys born
to Friendly, Sr. and Naomi Womack in a housing project. Taking after
their gospel-singing father, Womack and his four brothers Friendly,
Jr., Cecil, Harry and Curtis formed The Womack Brothers and began
touring the gospel circuit. One night, soul singer Sam Cooke spotted
the Womack Brothers performing and immediately began seeking the
group out for a recording contract. Signing with SAR Records, Cooke's
own imprint, they eventually agreed to leave the gospel circuit for
a career in secular music and the group was renamed as the Valentinos.
Shortly afterward, they scored their first charted single, "Lookin'
For a Love", which peaked at #8 on the Billboard R&B chart.
In 1964, they scored a second hit with "It's All Over Now".
The latter song was written by Womack and would give the singer monetary
royalties after The Rolling Stones' cover of "It's All Over
Now" hit the top of the UK Singles Chart. The Valentinos' career
dwindled after the death of Cooke in December 1964. The group stayed
together for a year and a half (recording for Chess Records in the
interim), before splitting up in 1966. They reformed in the late
1960s and recorded a few songs for Jubilee Records in the early 1970s,
appearing on Soul Train in 1973. Womack struggled to get noticed
in the music industry and secluded himself as a session musician.
 Early solo career: sideman
As a session guitarist, Womack worked at record producer Chips Moman's
American Studios in Memphis, and played on recordings by Joe Tex
and The Box Tops. Until this point, around 1967, he had had little
success as a solo artist, but at American he began to record a string
of hit singles, including 1968's "What Is This" (his first
chart hit), "It's Gonna Rain" and "More Than I Can
Stand". During this period he became known as a songwriter,
contributing many songs to Wilson Pickett's repertoire; these include "I'm
in Love" and "I'm a Midnight Mover." He also applied
guitar work on three of Aretha Franklin's hit-making late 1960s recordings,
including Lady Soul, where he played guitar on Franklin's hit, "Chain
of Fools". Among his most well-known works as a session musician
from this period, his appearance as guitarist on Sly & the Family
Stone's 1971 album There's a Riot Goin' On and on Janis Joplin's
Pearl, which features a song by Womack and poet Michael McClure entitled "Trust
Me". In 1971, on an album with jazz guitarist Gábor Szabó,
he introduced his song "Breezin'", which later became a
hit for George Benson.
 Solo stardom
In 1968, Womack signed with Minit Records and put out his first
charted single, "What Is This", following that up with "It's
Gonna Rain", "More than I Can Stand", a soul-infused
cover of Frank Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon" and his bluesy
rendition of The Mamas & the Papas' "California Dreamin'",
which gave him his first top 50 pop single.
After moving to the United Artists label in 1971, he released the
album Communication, scoring the hit "That's The Way I Feel
About Cha", which became his first Top 40 single in 1972.
His follow-up album, Understanding, featured his original rendition
of the single "I Can Understand It", which later became
a funk hit for the Detroit-based band New Birth, and the Top 10 R&B
hit, "Harry Hippie", loosely based on Womack's late brother
Harry, who died two years after the song was recorded. "Harry
Hippie" sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold
disc by the R.I.A.A. in Fenruary 1973. Understanding also yielded
his first R&B number one single with "A Woman's Gotta Have
It", later to be covered by James Taylor in 1976, returning
the favor of having Womack cover his seminal single, "Fire and
Rain". In 1973, Womack wrote, produced and recorded the soundtrack
album to Across 110th Street, with its title track becoming another
successful hit for Womack.
In 1974, Womack's remake of his old 1962 Valentinos single, "Lookin'
for a Love" reached the Top 10 of the pop singles chart. Later
hits included the funk singles "Check It Out" and "Daylight" and
the single, "You're Welcome, Stop On By", later covered
by Rufus featuring Chaka Khan.
In 1975, Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood wrote his classic second solo
album 'Now Look' in collaboration with Womack.
After 1976, few of Womack's songs hit the charts as he dealt with
creative difficulties with his record labels. He left United Artists
at the end of 1976, and fell out of favor with R&B audiences
by the end of the 1970s.
In 1981, he made a comeback with the release of The Poet, which
included his Top 10 R&B hit, "If You Think You're Lonely
Now". Womack gained a sizable European fan base which grew with
the release of 1984's The Poet II, which included the top ten R&B
duet with Patti LaBelle titled "Love Has Finally Come at Last".
In 1985, he scored his final Top 10 R&B single with "I Wish
He Didn't Trust Me So Much".
In 1998, Womack performed George Gershwin's "Summertime" with
The Roots for the Red Hot Organization's compilation album Red Hot
+ Rhapsody, a tribute to George Gershwin, which raised money for
various charities devoted to increasing AIDS awareness and fighting
In 2010, Womack contributed lyrics and sang on "Stylo" alongside
Mos Def, the first single from the third Gorillaz album, Plastic
Beach. Womack was told to sing whatever was on his mind during the
recording of "Stylo". "I was in there for an hour
going crazy about love and politics, getting it off my chest",
said Womack. He also provides vocals on the song "Cloud of
Unknowing" in addition to the song "Bobby in Phoenix" on
their December 2010 release "The Fall".
Jodeci's K-Ci Hailey, a notable admirer of Womack's work, covered "If
You Think You're Lonely Now" in 1994. Hailey again covered Womack
in 2006 with his rendition of "A Woman's Gotta Have It".
The song is referenced in Mariah Carey's song "We Belong Together",
a number-one hit in June 2005. Carey sings "I can't sleep at
night / When you are on my mind / Bobby Womack's on the radio / Singing
to me: 'If you think you're lonely now.'" In 2007, R&B singer
Jaheim interpolated the song as "Lonely" on his album "The
Making of a Man". Neo Soul Singer, Calvin Richardson also covered
many of Womack's tunes.
Film director Quentin Tarantino used "Across 110th Street" (which,
in a different version, had been the title song of the 1972 movie)
in the opening and closing sequences of his 1997 film Jackie Brown.
His work has been used in several other popular films, including
Meet the Parents (2000), Ali (2001) and American Gangster (2007).
A 2003 Saab commercial used Womack's interpretation of "California
Dreamin'". In 2005, "Across 110th Street" appeared
in the hit Activision video game True Crime: New York City. "Across
110th Street" was used in Rockstar Games video game Thug'z Depression:Live
On the 1994 release 1-800-NEW-FUNK, Nona Gaye covered "Woman's
Gotta Have It," produced by Prince and backed by his band, New
In 2008, Kelly Rowland of Destiny's Child recorded her own version
of his R&B hit "Daylight" with Travis McCoy of the
Gym Class Heroes, which became a hit in the UK Singles Chart, where
it was previously released as a single by Womack in 1976.
In March 1965, just three months after Sam Cooke's death, Womack
created scandal by marrying Cooke's widow, Barbara Campbell. Womack
claimed he married her for fear that, if she were left alone, she
would "do something crazy". They divorced in 1970.
Womack's younger brother, Cecil, married Cooke and Campbell's daughter
Linda. The controversy derailed Womack's career for some time. Womack
and Linda collaborated on the hit song "Woman's Gotta Have It" and
he applied background vocals for his brother and Linda as the pair
teamed up as Womack & Womack.
 Use in film
Womack's 1968 cover of "California Dreamin'" featured
prominently in 2009 British film Fish Tank by Andrea Arnold, where
the main character Mia dances to it and uses it as her audition piece.
The collection CD on which the song appears also plays a role, and
is "The Best of Bobby Womack" (2008), on which "California
Dreamin'" appears on track 17, as Mia requests at her audition.
Womack's "Across 110th Street" featured in the opening
and elsewhere in the film Jackie Brown, directed by Quentin Tarantino.
It is used to emphasise the blaxploitation tone of the film. It was
used again in the Denzel Washington film, American Gangster, which
depicted the actual circumstances described in the song.
Bobby Womack discography Releases
?Studio albums 26
?Live albums 2
?Compilation albums 9
 Studio albums
1968: Fly Me to the Moon (Minit) - US #174, R&B #34
1969: My Prescription (Minit) - R&B #44
1971: Communication (United Artists) - US #83, R&B #7, Jazz #20
1972: Understanding (United Artists) - US #43, R&B #7
1972: Across 110th Street (United Artists) - US #50, R&B #6
1973: Facts of Life (United Artists) - US #37, R&B #6
1974: Lookin' for a Love Again (United Artists) - US #85, R&B #5
1975: I Don't Know What the World Is Coming To (United Artists) - US #126,
1976: Safety Zone (United Artists) - US #147, R&B #40
1975: I Can Understand It (United Artists) - same tracks as on Greatest Hits
1976: BW Goes C&W (United Artists)
1976: Home Is Where the Heart Is (Columbia)
1977: Pieces (Columbia) - US #205
1979: Roads Of Life (Arista) - US #206, R&B #55
1981: The Poet (Beverly Glen) - US #29, R&B #1
1984: The Poet II (Beverly Glen) - US #60, R&B #5, UK #31
1985: So Many Rivers (MCA) - US #66, R&B #5, UK #28
1985: Someday We'll All Be Free (Beverly Glen) - US #207, R&B #59
1986: Womagic (MCA) - R&B #68
1987: Last Soul Man (MCA)
1989: Save The Children (Solar)
1994: Soul Seduction Supreme (Castle)
1994: Resurrection (Continuum) - R&B #91
1999: Back to My Roots (Capitol) - Gospel #27
1999: Traditions (Capitol)
2000: Christmas Album (Indigo)
 Live albums
1970: The Womack "Live" (United Artists) - US #188, R&B
1998: Soul Sensation Live (Sequel)
 Compilation albums
1975: Greatest Hits (United Artists) - US #142, R&B #30
1986: Check it Out (Stateside) - UK SSL 6013
1998: Red Hot + Rhapsody
1999: Traditions (Capitol)
2003: Lookin' For a Love: The Best of 1968-1976 (Stateside Records)
2004: Fly Me To The Moon/My Prescription on one CD (Stateside Records)
2004: Understanding/Communication (Stateside Records)
2004: Womack Live/The Safety Zone (Stateside Records)
2004: Lookin' For A Love Again/BW Goes CW (Stateside Records)
2004: Facts of Life/I Don't Know What the World Is Coming To (Stateside Records)
2010: Plastic Beach-Gorillaz (Parlophone)
2010: The Fall-Gorillaz (Parlophone)
Year Single Chart positions
US Pop chart US R&B chart UK 
1962 "Lookin' For a Love" (with The Valentinos) 72 8 –
1964 "It's All Over Now" (with The Valentinos) 94 – –
1968 "California Dreamin'" 43 20 –
Fly Me to the Moon" 52 16 –
What Is This" – 33 –
1969 "How I Miss You Baby" 94 13 –
I Left My Heart in San Francisco" – 48 –
It's Gonna Rain" – 43 –
1970 "I'm Gonna Forget About You" – 30 –
More Than I Can Stand" 90 23 –
1971 "Communication" – 40 –
The Preacher (Part 2)/More Than I Can Stand" – 30 –
1972 "That's The Way I Feel About Cha" 27 2 –
Sweet Caroline (Good Times Never Seemed So Good)" 51 16 –
Woman's Gotta Have It" 60 1 –
1973 "Harry Hippie" 31 8 –
Across 110th Street" 56 19 –
Nobody Wants You When You're Down And Out" 29 2 –
I'm Through Trying To Prove My Love To You" – 80 –
1974 "Lookin' For a Love" (solo re-release) 10 1 –
You're Welcome, Stop On By" 59 5 –
1975 "Check It Out" 91 6 –
It's All Over Now" (with Bill Withers) – 68 –
1976 "Daylight" – 5 –
Where There's A Will, There's A Way" – 13 –
1977 "Home Is Where The Heart Is" – 43 –
1978 "Trust Your Heart" – 47 –
1979 "How Could You Break My Heart" – 40 –
1981 "Secrets" – 55 –
1982 "If You Think You're Lonely Now" – 3 –
Where Do We Go From Here" – 26 –
1984 "It Takes a Lot of Strength to Say Goodbye" – 76 –
Love Has Finally Come at Last" (with Patti LaBelle) 88 3 –
Tell Me Why" – 54 60
1985 "I Wish He Didn't Trust Me So Much" – 2 64
Let Me Kiss It Where It Hurts" – 50 –
Someday We'll All Be Free" – 74 –
1986 "(I Wanna) Make Love to You" – 57 -
1987 "How Could You Break My Heart" (UK-only release of
1979 single) – – -
So The Story Goes" (with Living in a Box) 81 – 34
Living in a Box" – – 70
1989 "Save the Children" – 83 –
1991 "I Wish I'd Never Met You" (with Mica Paris) – – –
1993 "I'm Back For More" (with Lulu) – – 27
1995 "It's A Man's Man's Man's World" (with Jeanie Tracy) – – 73
2004 "California Dreamin'" (re-release) – – 59
2010 "Stylo" (with Gorillaz) - – –
2010 "Cloud of Unknowing" (with Gorillaz) - – –
2011 "Bobby In Phoenix" ("with Gorillaz")
Record industry people don't understand people who create. They'll
say "We've gotta get you a room and a piano and see how many
songs you can turn out in a day". But it doesn't work like that.
You can't put your feelings on a time schedule. ”
NME - March 1976
2011, Best Short-Form Music Video: "Stylo" shared w/ Mos Def & Gorillaz