Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bobby Womack among 2009 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees

Congratulations to Bobby Womack for his upcoming induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

Womack was “one of the guys” at American Studios, working on many sessions (the Box Tops, Joe Tex, et al) as a guitarist. First of all, it was our very own Chips Moman who brought Womack to Memphis (and Muscle Shoals) – and who produced Bobby's first sides in 1967 for Minit. He recorded a string of albums and hit singles at American, including 1968's gritty "What Is This" (his first chart hit), "It's Gonna Rain" and "More Than I Can Stand." One of the last albums to be recorded at American was 1972’s Understanding. Then in 1986, Chips met back up with Bobby in Memphis to produce his album Womagic, which received excellent reviews.

From his bio at:

Bobby Womack
(Robert Dwayne Womack)
Induction Category: Performer
Vocals, Guitar
Born March 4, 1944

Bobby Womack is a stalwart Soul and Gospel figurehead whose resume includes significant contributions across the decades as a singer, songwriter and guitarist. The son of a steelworker, he was born in Cleveland where he and his siblings formed a gospel group at a young age. While touring with the Soul Stirrers, the Womack Brothers met that group’s lead singer, Sam Cooke. After Cooke’s move from gospel to soul, he contacted the Womacks and asked them to move to California. Bobby Womack was only 16 years old at the time, and he dropped out of school. Under Cooke’s tutelage, they crossed the bridge from sacred to secular music, recording for his SAR label as the Valentinos.

As the Valentinos, the Womack brothers cut two R&B classics: “Looking for a Love” (later covered by the J. Geils Band) and “It’s All Over Now” (a song that became the Rolling Stones’ first U.S. hit).
Womack also played guitar in Cooke’s band. In the wake of Cooke’s deaths, the Valentinos broke up, and Womack turned to songwriting, guitar playing and a solo career. He has written songs recorded by Wilson Pickett (“I’m a Midnight Mover”), George Benson (“Breezin’”), Janis Joplin (“Trust Me”) and many others. Pickett alone recorded 17 of Womack’s compositions. A solid instrumentalist, Womack also played guitar on sessions for Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Joe Tex, King Curtis, Dusty Springfield and other Atlantic Records artists during a period in Memphis. He recorded an album with jazz guitarist Gabor Szabo, too.

As a solo artist, Womack scored a few minor hits (“Fly Me to the Moon,” “How I Miss You Baby”) at the tail end of the Sixties. However, he made his greatest mark in the Seventies and Eighties, racking up 33 charting singles, including the Top 10 R&B hits “That’s the Way I Feel About Cha,” “Woman’s Gotta Have It,” “Check It Out” and “If You Think You’re Lonely Now.” His first gold single was “Harry Hippie,” a meditation on wasted lifestyles written specifically about his brother and more generally about the counterculture. Womack topped the R&B chart in 1974 with his contemporary remake of “Lookin’ for a Love” and reached Number Two in 1973 with his interpretation of the blues standard “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out.” A duet with Patti Labelle, “Love Has Finally Come at Last,” reached Number Three in 1984. He performed a duet with Mick Jagger on “Going Back to Memphis,” from the Rolling Stones’ Dirty Work album.

In addition to his success as a singles artist, Womack recorded a series of albums whose thematic depth moved soul music forward much like the work of Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. These include The Poet, The Poet II, Communication, Understanding and Someday We’ll All Be Free. In 1994, after an extended absence from the music scene, Womack returned to form with Resurrection, which appeared on the Slide label, launched by Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones. (Womack had previously produced and played on Wood’s second solo album, 1975’s Look Now.) Later in the decade, he kept a promise he made to his late father by cutting a gospel album, Back to My Roots.

Womack is a music business survivor, elder statesman and champion of old-school Soul. “The whole thing is to make music feel real,” he told Craig Warner in a 1998 Goldmine profile. “You’ve got two or three minutes to connect, and it’s important that you have a story, a good hook line. It’s always gonna go back to that.”

Congratulations to this American Studios brother-in-arms for this honor!

Here is a look at Bobby Womack's discography:

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