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Bobby Womack, a colorful and highly influential R&B singer-songwriter who influenced artists from the Rolling Stones to Damon Albarn, has died. He was 70.
Womack’s publicist Sonya Kolowrat said Friday that the singer had died, but she could provide no other details.
Womack was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease two years ago and overcame addiction and multiple health issues, including prostate cancer, to pull off a second act in his career.
Womack performed recently at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival and seemed in good health and spirits. He had been scheduled to perform at multiple events across Europe in July and August.
He told the BBC in 2013 the Alzheimer’s diagnosis came after he began having difficulty remembering his songs and the names of people he had worked with.
The soul singer cut a wide path through the music business as a performer and songwriter in his 50-year career. In 2009, Womack was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website, Womack was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and sang gospel music at a young age. Under the influence of gospel and R&B legend Sam Cooke, Womack moved into secular music. In the early 1960s his group recorded “It’s All Over Now,” which was covered and by the Stones and became the band’s first number-one hit.
His songs have been recorded by multiple artists, and he played as a session musician in Memphis in the 1960s.
Womack influenced many early rockers before fading from popular music for more than a decade. Albarn and XL Recordings president Richard Russell helped Womack regain his career with 2012 comeback album “The Bravest Man in the Universe.”
“I don’t think he ever really thought that he would do anything again,” Albarn said of Womack in March. “Watching his rehabilitation and watching his ability to confront new material and new challenges was nothing short of miraculous at the time, and he still today continues to battle his demons and his illness. But he’s a beautiful person and when he opens his mouth and that voice comes out, it is something that is somehow touched by God.”