Artist Of The Week
- b 4th March 1944
- d 27th June 2014
Robert Dwayne Womack started his music career in the early 1950s as the lead singer of his family musical group the Valentinos and as Sam Cooke’s backing guitarist. His career spanned more than 60 years and multiple styles, including R&B, soul, rock and roll, doo-wop, and gospel.
He was born in Cleveland’s Fairfax neighborhood, a slum near East 85th Street and Quincy Avenue, to Naomi Womack and Friendly Womack, Bobby was the third of five brothers. Friendly Jr. and Curtis were Bobby’s older brothers, and Harry and Cecil were his younger brothers. Bobbys Mother once told him he could ‘Sing his way out of the slums’
By the mid-1950s, 10-year-old Bobby was touring with his brothers on the midwest gospel circuit as The Womack Brothers, along with Naomi on organ and Friendly Sr. on guitar. In 1954, under the moniker Curtis Womack and the Womack Brothers, the group issued the Pennant single, “Buffalo Bill”.
In the early 60’s The Valentinos signes to Sam Cookes SAR record label where, after moving to LA they had their first hit ‘Looking For A Love’. This breakthrough landed them an opening spot on tour with James Brown.
After Sam Cookes death in 1965 the label folded as the Valentinos disbanded. Bobby pursued a solo career but this was hampered by radio stations refusing to play his songs, which was due to the fact that he had married Sam Cookes widow, Barbara who was 10 years older than him.
They attempted to get married only 77 days after Sam Cookes death, with Womack wearing one of Cookes suits, but the licence was rejected because he wasn’t old enough and didnt have his parents permission. They finally married on 5th March the day after his 21st birthday.
The marriage was a huge scandal and Bobby found himself ostricized by the soul music world and his family. Such was the bad feeling that Womack was attacked by Sam Cookes brotherss Charles and David who broke Womacks jaw. Bobby seperated from Barabara in 1970 amid allegations from her of abusing their stepdaughter Linda. During this period Barabara shot Womack and the bullet grazed his head. According to Bobby Linda never spoke to her mother again.
Womack married his second wife and personal secretare, Evelyn Evans when he was 29. On December 31, 1975, Womack married his third wife 19-year-old Regina Banks. Together they had three children. In the early 1990s, Regina left him and went to New York, they remarried in 2013.