Photo credits: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Bobby Womack (pictured) was a prolific singer, record producer, and songwriter who wrote “Across 110th Street,” the theme song of a 1972 film of the same name. Womack was born on March 4, 1944, in Cleveland, Ohio.
Womack was a seasoned performer who patiently waited almost a decade for his moment at solo glory. He overcame trauma and addiction to establish himself as one of soul music’s iconic winners. Womack never received his due from mainstream fans, despite his ability to shine in the forefront as a vocalist or in the background as an accompanist and composer.
He was, nevertheless, a frequent hit producer on the R&B charts throughout the late 1960s and most of the 1970s. Womack established a high bar for quality control. His recordings were classic soul —- he had a bag of tactics gleaned from Sam Cooke, Wilson Pickett, and Sly Stone.
At one point or another, each of the aforementioned artists collaborated closely with Womack. They often carried the imprint of Womack’s own larger-than-life personality, whether in the form of a long-spoken philosophic exposition or a revolutionary reimagining of a pop classic.
Womack, an unsung guitarist, helped pioneer a leaner, simplistic style akin to Curtis Mayfield’s. He also had a formative effect on a young Jimi Hendrix. Furthermore, his compositions have been covered by a slew of musicians throughout the R&B and rock genres, with the finest of them ranking as all-time classics.
Womack died on June 27, 2014, at the age of 70, at his home in Los Angeles’ upscale Tarzana neighborhood.