By Duchess of Hackney

Hackney livin' n lovin'. Sarky frosty knickers always gobby, and perpetually pissed off for good reasons. Wind up merchant extraordinaire, but a nice old fashioned unusually unusual gal... Writing lots of wrongs.

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The Poet and Soul Man is not here today – Bobby Womack 1944 – 2014

The Poet and Soul Man is not here today – Bobby Womack 1944 – 2014

Last Friday afternoon I was rocking to Womack and Womack “Love Wars” album while in the kitchen. I mean I had Spotify on repeat for two hours. Ten hours later I hear Bobby Womack is dead.

Bobby Womack was cut from the same cloth so many other earlier soul and R & B singers were, a breed rare in today’s music. He was the consummate all rounder – a singer, songwriter and session musician. His repotiore was versatile and listening to him perform Neil Diamonds “Sweet Caroline” or the Mama and Papas or “California Dreamin” left you in no doubt about his range and the ability to give a whole other sound to any genre.

But it is his gritty raw soulful and streetwise urban lyrics and sound that endeared me to his music. That and his cocky strut, the sometimes suggestive swagger during his live shows.  Newcomers who have just gotten hip to Womack after he played Glastonbury last year while still recovering from cancer surgery and other ailments, may not know this, but he had real swagger. Watching his Glastonbury set only gives you a glimpse, although Altrina Grayson, one of his long time back up singers and long time duet partner offered some respite. His illness had taken its toll.

Bobby Womack's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Bobby Womack’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction

Oh, he may have showed up at Glastonbury, but Womack’s music never crossed over in a big way. Still, oldschooler’s like me knew the mans worth.  While he originally was not happy about the Rolling Stones covering his song “It’s All Over Now”, he changed his tune when he realised how much he could make in royalties from song writing.  He was never enamored by Mick Jagger. “Some people never grow up if you give ’em too much, “They gonna be assholes, then they just become a bigger asshole.” Is what he told the Guardian’s Alexis Petridis in 2012. He didn’t think much of Elvis Presley either whom he did some studio session work for but has said of Elvis:  “He wasn’t shit. Everything he got he stole’.

No stranger to tragedy and hardships, Womack  pretty much suffered, experienced and done it all. There was the murder of his friend and mentor Sam Cooke, murder of his brother Harry, the death of his 4 month old son which he blames himself for, his 21 year old sons suicide and another son was convicted of second degree murder and is in prison. He finally kicked his 30 year cocaine habit in the 90’s. Let’s not forget his divorces and the marriage to Sam Cooke’s widow, 3 months after his murder. And controversy? What do you call marrying Sam Cooke’s widow, less than 4 months after his death and then staring an affair with your then teenage  step-daughter.

You know until last week, I didn’t know the story behind Janis Joplins “Mercedes”. Yup, Womack influenced it.

He was a flawed man but Bobby Womack was amongst the greatest R & B singer EVER, who could wipe the floor with a lot of today’s contemporaries.

Unsung (Documentary) – Bobby Womack… by GENERATIONDISCOFUNK

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