by Marlon West (FB: marlon.west1 Twitter: @marlonw IG: stlmarlonwest Spotify: marlonwest)
Happy Monday, you all. Hope you had a good and safe Thanksgiving. Time will tell though.
While most of these offerings are genre and theme-based, I do like to feature a favorite, and often underrated, artist from time to time. This week, it’s Bobby Womack.
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While never a household name, Womack had a long and impactful career. He, like so many in his generation, started in a family gospel group with his brothers.
Womack became the protégé of gospel and R&B/pop star Sam Cooke, a session musician, a successful solo artist with decades of hits, a writer of his own and others’ songs, and along with Mos Def, and surviving members of The Clash, was a core member of Gorillaz.
Quincy Jones arguably stands alone in having a longer and more wide-ranging career. 10-year-old Bobby started touring with his brothers on the midwest gospel circuit as The Womack Brothers.
Their mentor, Sam Cooke, changed their name to the Valentinos. Their biggest hit came in 1964 with the country-tinged “It’s All Over Now,” co-composed by him, though the Rolling Stones cover of it would be the one to reach number one on the charts.
Bobby Womack played guitar on several of Aretha Franklin‘s albums, including Lady Soul. He scored his first major hit with a cover of The Mamas & the Papas‘ “California Dreamin’.”
Covers of his songs happened thoughout his career too, including being musically “quoted” by other artists: George Benson with the instrumental “Breezin’,” Lou Donaldson’s take on “You’re Welcome To Stop On By” in 1974, and Rod Stewart used the distinctive string arrangement from “Put Something Down On It” for his massive hit “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy.”
Bobby Womack recorded hits throughout the 1970s and ‘80s, including the theme song for the film Across 110th Street. The title track became popular during its initial 1972 release, and later would be played during the opening and closing scenes of Quentin Tarantino’s 1997 film, Jackie Brown.
This exposed Womack to a new generation of fans and collaborators: The Roots, Lana Del Rey, and Damon Albarn were among many.
Womack’s last studio recording was the album The Bravest Man in the Universe, released in 2014. Womack’s final concert was on June 14, 2014, days before his death at 70 years old.
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