BOBBY WOMACK

ALEX

Bobby Womack has earned the right to the title of true soul survivor. There is no doubt that he possesses a unique and exceptional talent. It is not only the rough and raspy classic soul voice, it is the torment in Bobby Womack's music, his pain is honest and deeply personal, leaving him vulnerable and exposed.

 The singer/songwriter operates on the notion that the best songs are rooted in common experience, and Bobby Womack's music comes straight from his soul. He was born Bobby Dwayne Womack to Naomi and Friendly Womack Sr., a steelworker, in Cleveland, Ohio on March 4, 1944. In the early 1950's, with some help from his father, Friendly Womack Sr., who was a singer and guitar player with a quartet called the Voices Of Love, he joined his brothers Cecil, Curtis, Friendly Jr.

 and Harry to tour the country appearing on religious shows as The Womack Brothers. The quintet toured with notable gospel groups such as the Five Blind Boys, the Caravans, and the Pilgrim Travelers, as well as the late great David Ruffin long before Ruffin would become famous as the greatest of The Temptations lead singers. At the time, the brothers thought gospel was the only way to go, that singing anything else was the way to hell.
When the Womack Brothers opened for the Soul Stirrers at a local gospel show in 1953, Bobby came in contact with their lead singer, Sam Cooke, who was just beginning to branch out into secular music. Sam, who would become Bobby’s mentor and a major influence, tried to recruit Bobby as a guitarist for his backing band. This stemmed from a night when Cooke’s guitar player did not show up and Bobby, then 16 years old, filled in and impressed Cooke so much that he fired two of his guitar players and replaced them with Bobby. The more successful Sam became, the harder he tried to convince Bobby and his brothers that it was secular music that provided money and fame far beyond the bounds of the gospel circuit. He told them to think about his new house and driveway filled with cars the next time they recorded. Eventually, against threats of eternal damnation from his strictly religious father, Bobby accepted Sam's offer, and dropped out of school.

 

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