US soul singer and songwriter Bobby Womack has died, his publicist said. He was 70.
Womack, who rose within the gospel music community in the 1950s, became a key figure of the soul genre, and is best known for hits including Lookin’ For A Love, That’s The Way I Feel About ‘Cha and Woman’s Gotta Have It.
He had a style that nobody else could ever capture. I loved him and I will miss him so, so very much.
His work influenced all kinds of singers and bands, including the Rolling Stones and Blur’s Damon Albarn.
His songs have been recorded by multiple artists, and he played as a session musician in Memphis in the 1960s.
Albarn and XL Recordings president Richard Russell helped Womack regain his career with 2012 comeback album The Bravest Man in the Universe.
The album was a departure for Womack, full of electronic music and beat. But it was lauded by critics for a simple reason: His distinctive voice still brought chills.
Womack was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease two years ago after overcoming addiction and multiple health issues, including prostate cancer, to pull off the second act of his career.
He performed recently at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival and had been scheduled to perform at multiple events across Europe in July and August.
In 2013 he told the BBC that his Alzheimer’s diagnosis came after he began having difficulty remembering his songs and the names of people he had worked with in his six decades of work.
Womack was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009, long after he’d lost his fortune and his career to addiction.
He spoke in 2012 of kicking his substance abuse problems and the friends he had lost to drugs over the years.
“I think the biggest move for me was to get away from the drug scene,” Womack said. “It was hard because everybody I knew did drugs. … they didn’t know when to turn it off.”
Womack was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and sang gospel music at a young age, performing with his brothers in The Womack Brothers.
Under the influence of gospel and R&B legend Sam Cooke, who signed the group to his personal label, Womack moved into secular music.
Gospel singer Candi Staton knew Womack since they were children and she toured with him.
“He had a style that nobody else could ever capture,” she said in a statement. “I loved him and I will miss him so, so very much.”