The life and extreme times of a well-traveled soul man.It's tough
to top the sensational first chapter of soul singer and songwriter
Womack's autobiography, in which his wife - widow of the late Sam
Cooke, whom he married less than four months after the singer's
shooting death - attempts to kill him after she discovers him
sleeping with his stepdaughter. In fact, it's all downhill from
there in this perplexing book, first published in the U.K. in 2006.
Womack's life was certainly not without incident. Raised in
Cleveland in a gospel-singing family, he rose to fame as Cooke's
protege in the Valentinos, whose '60s hits included "It's All Over
Now," which became a breakthrough cover for the Rolling Stones.
After playing guitar in Ray Charles' band and crafting hits for
Wilson Pickett, Womack stepped out on his own, creating the
bestselling albums Communication, Understanding and The Poet. His
career, which also encompassed encounters with Janis Joplin (on the
last night of her life), the Stones and the Faces, takes a backseat
to stories of drug abuse (in the company of such notorious figures
as Ike Turner and Sly Stone), drinking and womanizing. Along the
way, he recounts the breakup of two marriages, the murder of a
brother, the deaths of two sons and the jailing of a third. It's
frustrating reading, for Womack and collaborator Robert Ashton
present his hair-raising and outrageous stories matter-of-factly,
with little analysis of the character flaws that laid him so low in
life; adversity has evidently taught him nothing. His chronology is
frequently garbled; facts and names are scrambled; and the
narrative takes enormous leaps. Some stories appear embroidered or
simply implausible: For instance, Womack devotes several pages to
Cooke's purported decision to not release "A Change is Gonna Come,"
while the song actually appeared on an album six months before the
singer's death.Minus any illuminating self-exploration, Womack's
saga is a fitfully colorful but ultimately empty and depressing
tale of a misspent musical life. (Kirkus Reviews)
Bobby Womack's is the story of R&B and soul itself, a crucial
link between the gospel of the 1950s and the greatest soul and rock
of the 1960s and 1970s. As well as the 40 albums and 30 million
records he sold in his own right, he provided key support and
partied hard with the likes of the Rolling Stones and Sly Stone. In
a turbulent life often as afflicted with battles with drink and
drugs as it was with rich music, Womack was one of the last to see
his friend Janis Joplin shortly before she died and one of the key
witnesses to the mysterious shooting of Sam Cooke. He worked with
Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Rod Stewart and his
own hits included 'What Is This' and 'Across 110th Street'. He
turned to drink and drugs after the murder of his brother Harry and
went on the rampage with the likes of Sly Stone for much of the
1970s. It was a wild time he was lucky to survive. Back from the
brink, he's gone on to be a hero to millions, with modern-day
musicians claiming him as a key influence.
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