The Valentinos, comprising five brothers from the Womack family, sang mighty fine gospel – their 1961 version of Yield Not To Temptation is exquisite – but at the instigation of Sam Cooke, role model, producer, and SAR label owner, they switched to R&B and delivered future classics Lookin’ For A Love and It’s All Over Now.
The first – a secular rewrite of Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray – broke the US R&B Top 10, while the latter – rooted in Chuck Berry – became a hit for The Rolling Stones. Both featured Bobby Womack on lead vocals. He would later cover Lookin’ For A Love as a solo artist.
The Womack clan moved from Cleveland to Los Angeles and The Valentinos joined the Sam Cooke Show and toured with him. In fact, Bobby stayed with Sam, until the sad death of the great artist in December 1964.
Devastated after Cooke was shot and killed in a Los Angeles motel, The Valentinos disbanded and SAR Records folded.
Bobby married Sam Cooke‘s widow, Barbara, which was considered a scandal by some in the music business, his brothers turned against him – as did many disc jockeys – and Womack found himself ostracised in the soul music world. Womack and Barbara were divorced in 1971. Bobby Womack died at his home in Tarzana, California on 27 June 2014, aged 70.
Cecil Womack married Mary Wells in 1966 and managed her until their divorce in 1977. He eventually married Sam and Barbara Cooke’s daughter, Linda, and the duo teamed up as Womack & Womack, enjoying a number of hits including Teardrops (1988) which became a major international hit, reaching #3 in the UK and #1 in the Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand. Cecil died of unknown causes in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 25 January 2013, aged 65.
Harry became the bass guitar player with Bobby’s band until he was fatally stabbed in the neck with a steak knife by his girlfriend Patricia Wilson in March 1974. He was just 28.
Curtis gave up music and went to work for the Post Office. He died in May 2017, aged 74.
Friendly Womack Jr.