Bobby Womack / Valentinos


Cleveland, 1956 - 2014

Bobby Womack is the only Cleveland native who is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Considering his career, it's not a stretch to say he was Cleveland's greatest musical talent from the 'rock era'. 

Bobby Womack was one of five brothers, all of whom eventually joined the Womack Brothers gospel group when they were children. The other brothers were Friendly Jr., Curtis, Cecil, and Harry. During the early years of the group, older brother Curtis was the prime lead singer, but as Bobby's voice matured he began to take the lead. The group recorded one gospel 45 for the Birmingham, Alabama based Pennant records, a label that released records by some other Cleveland R&B artists.

The group was spotted by Sam Cooke while he was still singing with his gospel group, the Soul Stirrers. Eventually, Cooke persuaded the family to move out to Los Angeles so he could mentor them. As Cooke moved to secular music, the Womacks followed, and they were renamed the Valentinos. Over the next couple years, the group released several 45s on Cooke's SAR label. The song "Lookin' For A Love" was the first chart record (redone by Bobby in the 1970s) and their next hit was "It's All Over Now". A few months after the Valentinos' release, the Rolling Stones recorded a version that was a bigger US hit. 

The death of Sam Cooke in December 1964 was a serious blow to the Womacks' career. In March of 1965 Bobby married Cooke's widow Barbara and even in the relatively tame attitudes of tabloid news at that time, this was very controversial, mainly because of the short time between the two events. The Valentinos decided to resume their recording career, but Bobby was no longer an active member, he had stepped aside primarily because of negative fallout over the marriage. Bobby retreated to session guitar work and songwriting, with one 45 on the LA based HIM label released in 1965. 

The Valentinos did eventually release two 45s on Chess records in 1966. Neither of the records were that successful, however of the songs - "Sweeter Than The Day Before" - is a great uptempo soul sound that became a Northern Soul standard. During this time Cecil Womack married former Motown singer Mary Wells. This led to Wells landing with Jubilee records and recording an LP that included a lot of help from all the Womack brothers. The remaining Valentinos/ Womack brothers - now without Cecil - released a couple 45s. That was the last release for the Valentinos for about 4 years.

Bobby returned to ther ranks of recording artist with Minit records, which for a short time was home to the O'Jays as well. Bobby had also been racking up some hits as a songwriter and continued to record and write songs. 

In 1972 he moved to United Artists records and one of first 45s for UA was "That's The Way I Feel About Cha" which was a huge R&B hit and made it to the top 40 pop chart. The next few years were Bobby's most successful. He recorded several more hits, with the biggest one being the re-recording of "Looking For A Love". Another big and well remembered recording as "Across 110th Street", the title song of the movie of the same name.

There was a couple more Valentinos 45s including "I Can Understand It" from 1972 that included contributions from all the Womack brothers. Bobby had wrote the song and released it a few months earlier on his "Understanding" LP. 

During the 1980s Bobby's career was not as prolific or successful. He had dealing with drug problems. He cleaned up in the 1990s and over the last decade and half of his life release a couple LPs and got a lot of attention in the revival scene, including overseas where older US soul artists have always been held in high regard. 

Cecil Womack continued to record as well. He married Linda Cooke, the daughter of Sam and Barbara Cooke. In the 1980s they recorded as Womack and Womack and had a couple US hits, but were more successful in places like the UK, Europe, and Australia. The duo rebooted as the House of Zekkariyas in 1993, after discovering they had roots in the Nigerian tribe of that name. Their last recording was in 2004.

Bobby Womack passed away in 2014, and Cecil Womack passed away in 2013. Much more information can be found from numerous sources,

Discography

The Womack Brothers - 
Bible Tells Me So / Buffalo Bill - Pennant 333 -1954
Yield Not To Temptation / Somebody's Wrong - SAR 118

The Valentinos -
Lookin' For A Love / Somewhere There's A Girl - SAR 133
Darling, Come Back Home / I'll Make It Alright - SAR 137 - credited to The Valentinos (The Lovers)
She's So Good To Me / Baby, Lots Of Luck - SAR 144
It's All Over Now / Tired Of Livin' In The Country - SAR 152
Everybody Wants To Fall In Love / Bitter Dreams - SAR 155
Do It Right / What About Me - Chess 1952
Let's Get Together / Sweeter Than The Day Before - Chess 1977
Tired Of Being Nobody / The Death Of Love - Jubilee 5636
I Can Understand It - Part 1 / I Can Understand It - Part 2 - Clean 60005 - 1972
Stay Away / Oh How I Miss You Babe - Clean 60007 - 1973

Bobby Womack -
Nothing You Can Do / Get It While You Can - HIM 1001 
What Is This? / I Wonder - Keymen 102 
Find Me Somebody / How Does It Feel - Atlantic 2388 (listed as Wommack on label)
Trust Me / Baby I Can't Stand It - Minit 32024
What Is This / What You Gonna Do - Minit 32037
Tried And Convicted / How I Miss You Baby - Minit 32081
Across 110th Street / Hang On In There - United Artists XW196
Home Is Where The Heart Is / We've Only Just Begun - Columbia 10437 - 1976