Legendary soul singer Bobby Womack died suddenly on Friday at the age of 70. Known as ‘The Preacher,’ Womack’s career spanned seven decades, making him one of the most indelible voices in music.
Womack got his start in his family’s band, Curtis Womack and the Womack Brothers, who were later signed by Sam Cooke to SAR Records in 1960. The Womack brothers released a smattering of gospel albums before changing their name to the Valentinos and switching to secular music. Their most famous song, “It’s All Over Now,” later became a number one hit in the UK for the Rolling Stones.
In 1964, Cooke died, and three months later Womack married Cooke’s widow igniting a scandal. The Womack Brothers soon disbanded after their label, SAR, shut down. Womack went on to be a session musician, playing guitar for hit makers like Aretha Franklin before releasing his solo debut Fly Me to the Moon in 1968.
In the late ‘60s to early 1970s Womack released a series of hit albums, including Understanding, Across 110th Street, Facts of Life, and Looking for a Love Again.
In 1974, Womack’s career stalled, but he found his way back to the top with the 1981 smash hit “If You Think You’re Lonely Now.” During the eighties, the singer grappled with drug abuse and checked himself into rehab. Over the years, Womack also suffered from a series of health issues including diabetes, pneumonia, colon cancer and the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Despite his challenges, Womack continued to perform around the world and he was inducted in the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.
In 2012, Womack was found to be cancer-free and he set about finishing his album. That year, he released The Bravest Man in the Universe, his first record in more than a decade. Rolling Stone named it one of the best albums of 2012.
At the time of his death, Womack was said to be working on another project tentatively titled The Best Is Yet to Come, which was rumored include collaborations with Stevie Wonder, Rod Stewart and Snoop Dogg.
Back in May, Womack wrote a note to his fans on Facebook, telling them, “I love y’all so much for being with me for all these years. I want you to know I’m still going strong!”
Though his body may be gone, his spirit and his music will definitely live on.