The man known for his raspy yet soulful sound, Robert Dwayne “Bobby” Womack has been diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, according to the news he broke to the BBC. In an interview, the R&B legend who is now 68 stated, ”The doctor said, ‘You have signs of Alzheimer’s.’ He said it’s not bad yet, but it’s going to get worse.”
Bobby Womack has been experiencing difficulty remembering the names of the people he has worked with while performing, in addition to his own song lyrics. ”How can I not remember songs I wrote? That’s frustrating,” Womack admitted.
Mr. Womack was inducted in the the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame four years ago in 2009 and he hasn’t slowed down since. He released the LP The Bravest Man in the Universe in 2012, his first album of new material since 1994. With the release of the album, he has been touring a bit and doing shows but admits to having trouble mentally dealing with his diagnosis.
“I don’t feel together yet because negative things come in my mind and it’s hard for me to remember sometimes. The most embarrassing thing was when we were getting ready to announce Damon Albarn (Who produced his latest album and is the lead singer of the group Blur.) and I can’t remember his last name. That’s so embarrassing.”
Alzheimer’s is not the only disease or problem that has ailed Womack in recent times. He has overcome a series of health scares including being treated for pneumonia, prostate cancer, and suspected colon cancer in the past 24 months. A tumor removed for colon cancer diagnosis tested negative. We are hoping that the R&B legend can find a way to tackle this situation as well.
Early Life and Career:
Born and raised in Cleveland’s East 85th & Quincy area to Naomi Womack and Friendly Womack, Womack was the third of five brothers. Raised Baptist, their mother played organ in their church and their father was a minister and musician, often known to play guitar though he advised his sons to not touch the instrument while he was away. One night, eight-year-old Bobby, who was often playing it, broke a guitar string. After Friendly replaced the string with a shoelace, he let Bobby play the guitar for him. According to Bobby later, Friendly was shocked by his son’s talents as well as the talents of his other sons. Soon afterwards, he bought Bobby his own guitar and formed The Womack Brothers. The group toured the gospel circuit with their parents accompanying them on organ and guitar respectively. In 1954, the group under the moniker Curtis Womack and the Womack Brothers, the group issued the Pennant single, “Buffalo Bill”. Bobby was only ten years old at the time.
Even though Curtis Womack often sang lead, Bobby Womack was allowed to sing alongside him showcasing his gruff baritone vocals in contrast to his older brother’s smoother tenor. During performances, Bobby would sometimes imitate the role of a preacher. Sam Cooke discovered the group performing while he was still in the Soul Stirrers in 1956 and began mentoring the boys, promising them that he would help with their careers once he established himself. Within four years, Cooke had formed SAR Records and signed the quintet to the label. Bobby was sixteen. The group recorded two gospel sides before Cooke decided to have the boys switch over to pop music. Upon telling his father of the decision to go secular, an emotional Friendly Sr. told them that they had to leave the house. Cooke had the brothers move to Los Angeles.