Bobby Womack: Across 110th Street


Bobby Womack: Across 110th Street

Documentary about singer-songwriter Bobby Womack, from his early gospel days of the 1950s through soul stardom in the 70s to a career Indian summer with Gorillaz and Damon Albarn.


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Transcript


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-BOBBY WOMACK:

-# The bravest man

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# In the universe

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# Is the one

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# Who has forgiven first... #

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WOMAN: The bravest man in the universe.

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In 2011, Bobby Womack recorded an acclaimed album with Damon Albarn.

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His voice, in particular, just resonated emotionally with me.

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# I got a story

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# I want to tell... #

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It was the start of a completely unexpected Indian summer

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for a musician whose 60-year career has been

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a rollercoaster ride of wild ups and traumatic downs.

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Him having the ability to express himself musically has saved him.

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# I once was lost

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# But now I'm found. #

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I think what drives Bobby is people telling him that he can't.

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MUSIC: "Across 110th Street" by Bobby Womack

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# Wooo, oooh

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# I was the third brother of five

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# Doing whatever I had to do to survive... #

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Starting his life on the streets of segregated black America,

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Bobby Womack embarked on an epic odyssey.

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# Trying to break out of the ghetto was a day to day fight... #

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He never stepped in front of a train.

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He never jumped out of an aeroplane without a parachute.

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But Bobby is an adventurer.

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He is living, breathing music history.

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His career encapsulates so many critical moments in popular music.

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JANIS JOPLIN: # Oh, my love is like a seed... #

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Bobby wrote for Janis Joplin and was with her on the very night she died.

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He hung out with The Rolling Stones and wrote

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-one of their biggest '60s hits.

-# It's all over now... #

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It just fitted, because, er,

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it made you think that the Stones had written it.

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Bobby played guitar on Sly & the Family Stone classics.

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# It's a family affair... #

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That's the man who pays his dues, you know,

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who comes up through the ranks, you know, not just handed something.

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# Across 110th Street... #

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In the '70s and '80s, Bobby Womack became a major soul star,

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with hits like Woman's Gotta Have It and Across 110th Street.

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There is such a mixture of heaven and hell at the same time coming at you.

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You can't but to hear the church AND the streets.

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This programme contains some strong language.

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# Oh, how I love Jesus

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# Oh, how I love Jesus

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# Oh, how I love Jesus

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# Because he first loved me. #

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-WOMAN: # I made a vow to the Lord MAN:

-And I won't take it back!

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-# I made a vow to the Lord

-And I won't take it back... #

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Bobby Womack's musical personality was sparked into life

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six decades ago, in the ecstatic gospel churches of 1940s Cleveland.

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Those weren't places where people tried to be reserved.

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People screaming, falling out in the floor, "Oh, Lord!" you know,

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having spasms and stuff.

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Well, you do that in a nightclub, you get arrested.

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At the Baptist church, the most important thing that I learned

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was how to relate spiritually to people.

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If you didn't reach their heart, you didn't reach them.

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# I believe to my soul... #

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BAND JOINS IN, MUSIC CONTINUES

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For Bobby Womack and his brothers,

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church was an almost daily experience.

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Their father insisted on it.

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Most gospel fathers were strict at that time and they felt that

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that, in order to set a difference against the cards that were dealt

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to black people, they had to just kind of maintain this regimen.

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Bobby was born in 1944

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in the northern industrial city of Cleveland.

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His father worked in the local steel mills.

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It was a tough, low paid job.

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Money was exceptionally tight.

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One of the Womack father's few prized possessions was his guitar.

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He had more nerve than any of us, you know,

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he would do things that we wouldn't do.

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Take my dad's guitar and play it when my dad said...

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"Don't EVER touch it."

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You know, he says, "Something very bad going to happen to you."

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And he slipped in and we'd get the guitar...

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HE PLAYS CHORDS

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Yeah.

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I just love playing. It was like being able to express myself,

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not knowing how to express myself unless I had that guitar.

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Bobby was left-handed. His father was right-handed.

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So, unwittingly, he taught himself to play the instrument upside down.

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And one particular time, he was playing it and an E string popped.

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Then Bobby's father arrived home after a long day at the steel mills.

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And he say, "Who's been playing my guitar?"

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Everybody pointed to me.

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He said, "I'm going to put the string back on."

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He says, "But you're going to have to play it."

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And I start playing. And I think I was the first one who played with

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the guitar behind my neck before Jimi Hendrix.

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I hadn't even known him then.

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Well, I was playing slide, I was playing everything,

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and he...he was shocked.

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With the revelation of knowing that Bob could play,

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and then, um, later on finding out that we could sing too,

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that really, um, that was a revelation for my father.

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Womack Snr saw an opportunity. All the pieces were now in place

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to create his own family gospel quintet, the Womack Brothers.

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They were not allowed to play outside much.

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He spent their time rehearsing.

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And he would always say, "If you want to leave the ghetto,

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"being poor, you could sing your way to success."

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-# Oh, Jesus!

-He gave me water!

-He gave me water!

-He gave me water! #

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Bobby's life changed dramatically when, in 1953,

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a major gospel act, The Soul Stirrers,

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with their dynamic new lead vocalist Sam Cooke,

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rolled into Cleveland to perform.

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ARCHIVE RECORDING PLAYS

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Womack Snr approached Sam Cooke and asked

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if his boys could open the show for them.

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Sam agreed.

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We got a standing ovation at the church.

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CHEERING

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At the end of their performance,

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Sam asked the congregation to give cash donations to the young boys.

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They took home more than Womack Snr's weekly wage.

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And when we saw that, in one evening,

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you could make what Dad makes three times over, that was the effect.

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The mid-'50s was the golden age of gospel music.

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Bobby and his brothers became a part of this,

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spending their weekends and summer holidays on the road.

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The gospel highway was essentially packages of gospel groups

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that would tour America and it was big business.

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It was really show business in spiritual form.

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-# My God is good to me

-Yeah!

-My God is good to me

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-# Yeah!

-My God is good to me

-Oh, yeah!

-Ain't he good to you?

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-# Yeah!

-Ain't he good to you? #

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On the gospel highway, Bobby and his brothers absorbed

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techniques from the masters of the genre, like The Dixie Hummingbirds.

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They would say, like, "OK, instead of you guys

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"just walking out and walking up to the mic,

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"when they call y'all, all of y'all come running out," you know,

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"and leave space open for Bobby

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"to run down through the middle to start singing lead."

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All of the things that would make people jump up

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out of their seats they would tell you.

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Young Bobby was also able to observe one of his biggest heroes at work.

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# There's no need to cry... #

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The Five Blind Boys of Mississippi's star vocalist Archie Brownlee.

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# Things go wrong... #

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He knew he was bad,

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but he just had a voice that could put chills on you.

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# There's no need to fear... # BACKING SINGERS HARMONISE

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Hearing Archie Brownlee played a huge part

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in moulding Bobby's vocal style, you know,

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what he calls the beautiful scream.

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SOULFUL CRY: # He... cut her down... #

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But as Bobby and his brothers travelled the gospel circuit,

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the boys realised a less benevolent side of the church

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was affecting their careers.

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They called him a Prince of Devils! They called him a winebibber!

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The preachers rolled around in Cadillacs and they all had

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nice homes and, er, we were still living poor from day to day.

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We were seeing gospel groups that were so hungry

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for the money that they would put stumbling blocks in your way.

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You know, they would mess with your instruments.

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After experiencing this exploitation and dishonesty, The Womack Brothers

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believed their prospects could be better beyond the church.

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SAM COOKE: # Darling, you send me... #

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In the late '50s, gospel was being drowned out by a new sound -

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rhythm and blues.

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# Darling, you send me

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# Honest, you do! Honest, you do! Honest, you do! #

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In December 1957, they watched Sam Cooke,

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the man who had given them their big break five years earlier,

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abandon gospel and cross over into the secular world.

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# At first I thought it was infatuation

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# But ooh, it's lasted so long... #

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When Sam performed You Send Me on The Ed Sullivan Show in front

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of a huge national audience, it was a landmark moment.

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He became an overnight star, blazing a trail

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for other disillusioned gospel singers to follow.

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The teenaged Bobby and his brothers were tempted by what they saw,

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so they asked a mutual friend to make a phone call to Sam Cooke.

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He called Sam and said, "You remember The Womack Brothers?

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"The guys who used to open up for you years ago?

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"They're still around." So he said, "Can they sing?"

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And he said, "Can they sing?! Oh, man, they're tough!"

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# Yield not to temptation

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# For I know it is sin... #

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Sam offered to sign them to his new record label,

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where they'd be able to record R&B and put gospel behind them.

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That's a big push and pull on you, you know,

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and you want to please your parents.

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You know, one of those old hymns said, "Yield not to temptation".

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There's a whole lot of temptation not to yield to.

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That was hard for me to tell my father

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that we didn't want to sing gospel any more.

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-He walked off...

-BOBBY LAUGHS

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He said, "I've spent all this time working with you guys

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"and you guys want to go to the devil."

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And he started crying.

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I got a whupping that day. I'll never forget it.

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And the next day, I told him I still wanted to sing rock'n'roll.

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That scared him, so he said, "Well, you guys got to leave here,"

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and then he put us out.

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# ..God's name

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# Hold it in rev'rence... #

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Sam wired Bobby and his brothers funds to buy a car

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and drive to his headquarters in California.

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When you leave the church,

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when you leave that pulpit-themed world,

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all kinds of heaven and hell come with it.

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MUSIC: "Wonderful World" by Sam Cooke

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# Don't know much about history

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# Don't know much biology... #

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LA at the start of the '60s was booming.

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It was a city of opportunity

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and becoming America's entertainment capital.

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Bobby Womack was about to start a new life here.

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# ..if you love me too what a wonderful world this would be... #

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To break from the past, he and his brothers switched their name

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to The Valentinos and changed their musical style.

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They hit the spot on their very first single

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by adapting an old gospel song.

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# Couldn't hear nobody pray

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# Oh, couldn't hear nobody pray

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# Oh, I was way down yonder in the valley by myself

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# And I couldn't hear nobody pray

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# I couldn't hear nobody pray. #

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-And then, we changed it to...

-SAME TUNE:

-# I'm lookin' for a love

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# Oh... # But they did that a lot back then.

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You know, just took the melody, changed the lyrics.

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-# I'm lookin' for a love

-Well, now!

-Whoa-oh!

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# I'm lookin' here and there And I'm searching everywhere

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# And I'm lookin', I'm lookin' I'm lookin', I'm lookin'

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# I'm lookin' for a love to call my own... #

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I just said, "Oh, man, I know I'm going to get crucified for this!"

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You know, always thinking that's just like I'm putting God down

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and I'm going to the devil with these lyrics.

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But the audience bought it.

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# Someone to do a load of housework and back with me again... #

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That song was a turntable hit in Los Angeles.

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The Valentinos had a following here. You heard it.

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# I'll be lookin' for a love... #

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Now that The Valentinos were signed to Sam Cooke's SAR Records,

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one of the very first things he did

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was put Bobby and his brothers through showbiz boot camp.

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Let's everybody shout and shimmy!

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Sam hooked them up with the master of R&B performance...

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James Brown and The Famous Flames!

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BAND PLAYS

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James Brown was the master teacher. He was able to, you know,

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push the boundaries of sound, sight and performances

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to the next level.

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In October 1962, James Brown was recording his pivotal live album.

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The Valentinos were supporting him.

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And he made them sweat for a whole week at Harlem's Apollo Theatre.

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Things such as performing and they give me a standing ovation

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and we wouldn't go back out and bow.

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You know, because they didn't do that in gospel. So James would

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always be there to tell us, "What's the matter with y'all?

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"Get your ass back out there!" you know.

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And we just thought he was the meanest guy we had ever ran into.

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I think what he took from that was, "I could have my own show."

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Sam Cooke was also sharpening up Bobby and his brothers' sound

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back in the Los Angeles recording studio.

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-Keep cooking like that, Bob.

-Yeah.

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-Er, this time, watch your words...

-All right.

-Give me that message.

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-All right.

-All right, we keep the feel, but give me that message.

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Sam would say to him to sing a part over and always enunciate.

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You only do that once, then you went "doo-da-loo"!

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Sam was encouraging his compositional talent too.

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In 1964, Bobby wrote a song for The Valentinos

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that would become one of the biggest hits of the '60s.

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# Well, my baby would stay out all night long

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# Made me cry

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# She did me wrong

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# Because I used to love her

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# But it's all over now #

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MUSIC: "It's All Over Now" by The Valentinos

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# Because I used to love her

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# But it's all over now... #

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I remember going down to Flash Records in downtown LA

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and buying It's All Over Now by The Valentinos.

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And I just went, "Wow! This is just...

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"This is the coolest thing on the planet." I was just a kid.

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# But she put me down and it was a pity how I cried

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# But the table's turning now It's her turn to cry

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# Because I used to love her

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# But it's all over now... #

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And then, I remember all of sudden

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seeing these strange looking English blokes

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doing, you know, Bobby's song. "What's this all about?"

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# Because I used to love her.. # CROWD SCREAMING

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When the Stones made their American breakthrough in 1964,

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Sam Cooke gave them permission to cover Bobby's song,

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which they performed on The TAMI Show.

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The white teen audience was completely taken in.

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It just fitted, because, er,

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it made you think that the Stones had written it.

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# But it's all over now... #

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It became the Stones' first UK number one single.

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These white boys come and cut the song and now,

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everybody thinks they cut it, you know, so we were, I was quite angry.

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Until Sam told him, "This is a good thing.

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"You will reach a different market."

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I've been chasing them ever since,

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trying to, trying to get them to cut another one of my songs.

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As well as writing songs that helped make the Stones famous,

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Bobby was also beginning to compose with his mentor Sam Cooke.

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# She's good to me... #

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Sam Cooke was like a big brother to Bobby,

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because Bobby was around him more.

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It went beyond mentorship.

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Bobby got to see how a real star lived, with a big house.

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He got to cruise with Sam Cooke.

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But Bobby's partnership with Sam would be cut short.

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MUSIC: "I'll Come Running Back To You" by Sam Cooke

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# Folks say that you've found someone new... #

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On the night of December the 11th, 1964,

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Sam Cooke invited a woman back to a Los Angeles motel.

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During an altercation with the motel's manager, he was killed.

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# I'll come running back to you... #

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It was like Bobby just graduating high school and just beginning

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his first year of college and then the professor was no longer there.

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# Just call my name

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# I know, I know

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# I'm not ashamed

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# I'll come running back to you. #

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This is the first time I've been here in 50 years...

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er, it's really strange, it's really eerie.

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You know, because to look at it, everything looks the same, you know.

0:20:330:20:40

I was so crazy about Sam...that the first thing that I said...

0:20:400:20:45

.."I'm going to protect his family."

0:20:470:20:50

But protecting Sam's family would put young Bobby through hell

0:20:540:20:57

and have a devastating effect on his career.

0:20:570:21:00

You want to understand why he made the choices he made.

0:21:030:21:07

It's not just like an open and closed book.

0:21:070:21:10

You're curious

0:21:100:21:11

as to what he was thinking when he married Barbara.

0:21:110:21:15

Just three months after his death,

0:21:220:21:24

Bobby married Sam's widow Barbara Cooke.

0:21:240:21:27

It was just one of those kind of things

0:21:360:21:39

that, in the black community, just didn't happen.

0:21:390:21:42

It got to a place whereby if somebody said,

0:21:430:21:46

"Friendly Womack, are you any kin to Bobby Womack?"

0:21:460:21:49

I said, like, "No".

0:21:490:21:50

I'm going to take care of his family,

0:21:530:21:55

you know, and I really meant that from here,

0:21:550:21:59

and, er, that's what's happened but people looked at it different.

0:21:590:22:06

When Bobby and Barbara visited Sam Cooke's hometown of Chicago,

0:22:060:22:11

two close associates of Sam's decided to teach them both

0:22:110:22:15

a physical lesson.

0:22:150:22:17

I think he got three or four broken ribs, his jaw was broken,

0:22:170:22:22

you know, his eyes were swollen up, he couldn't even see out of them

0:22:220:22:27

and Barbara was beaten up just as bad but not as bad as Bobby.

0:22:270:22:31

The Valentinos had fallen apart after Sam's death and the scandal

0:22:340:22:39

now affected Bobby's attempt to launch his solo career.

0:22:390:22:42

# I found a true love

0:22:420:22:45

# Swear by the stars above

0:22:450:22:48

# I know she's mine... #

0:22:480:22:50

If I was on a record, they would throw the record in the waste basket

0:22:500:22:53

and say it would never get played on this station.

0:22:530:22:56

I mean, this is big.

0:22:560:22:57

# I thought I might know you... #

0:22:570:22:59

The whole music industry just kind of, like, piled on top of him

0:22:590:23:05

and, like, he's not going to have a career no kind of way.

0:23:050:23:09

# She got to know that for real... #

0:23:090:23:10

Bobby now had no choice but to start again from the bottom up,

0:23:150:23:19

falling back on his strengths as a guitarist and songwriter.

0:23:190:23:22

He made contact with an old friend from his gospel days who was

0:23:240:23:27

now a big star on Atlantic Records and had considerable clout.

0:23:270:23:31

# I'm in love

0:23:320:23:35

# Yes, I am... #

0:23:350:23:36

What Pickett did is took me to Atlantic and he says,

0:23:360:23:41

"This guy's talented, man, y'all need to sign him."

0:23:410:23:44

After I'd finished, they said, "Well, I'm afraid to sign him,

0:23:440:23:48

"there's too much negative talk on him for marrying Sam's wife

0:23:480:23:52

"and I don't want to deal with it."

0:23:520:23:54

So Pickett talked me into giving him all of my songs.

0:23:550:23:59

He'd say, "Every time they see Wilson Pickett,

0:23:590:24:01

"they're going to see Bobby Womack underneath."

0:24:010:24:03

# I'm in love... #

0:24:030:24:05

If he wasn't going to get a crack at being a successful soul man

0:24:080:24:11

himself, then he sure knew what was needed and they really made

0:24:110:24:15

a connection that worked commercially for Pickett.

0:24:150:24:19

# I'm a midnight mover

0:24:260:24:28

# Feel so good

0:24:360:24:39

# I'm a midnight teaser

0:24:410:24:42

# Feel so pleased... #

0:24:460:24:47

In 1968, Bobby and Wilson Pickett wrote a soul classic together.

0:24:470:24:52

# Midnight hugger

0:24:520:24:54

# All night long

0:24:540:24:56

# Midnight lover.

0:24:560:24:58

The midnight mover moves around in the midnight hour...

0:24:580:25:02

HE CHUCKLES

0:25:020:25:03

..doing what the midnight mover does!

0:25:030:25:06

# Oooh!

0:25:060:25:08

# They call me the midnight mover

0:25:080:25:10

# Oh, yeah

0:25:100:25:12

# Oh-h!

0:25:120:25:13

# I'm a midnight walker

0:25:130:25:16

# Sweet soul talker... #

0:25:180:25:20

There's so many people that are midnight movers.

0:25:200:25:24

They sleep in the day, but at night they come out on the prowl.

0:25:240:25:28

Bobby's collaborations with Wilson Pickett would open up

0:25:300:25:33

another opportunity for him to repair his shattered reputation.

0:25:330:25:38

# Oh, yeah... #

0:25:410:25:43

Midnight Mover and other Womack-penned Wilson Pickett tracks

0:25:430:25:46

were cut at American Sound in Memphis.

0:25:460:25:50

This was a hot new recording studio attracting major

0:25:500:25:53

artists in the soul and pop worlds.

0:25:530:25:55

The studio was highly impressed with Bobby's guitar playing.

0:25:550:25:59

Bobby was unsettling. He wasn't like the average guitar player.

0:25:590:26:03

First of all, he played upside-down and backwards,

0:26:030:26:08

so his rhythm chords would naturally sound different from everybody else.

0:26:080:26:13

American Studios offered Bobby a job as a session guitarist.

0:26:130:26:17

But we were always adding something,

0:26:230:26:26

a bass line or something or a guitar line, whatever your deal was,

0:26:260:26:31

you just came out with it and it would happen.

0:26:310:26:34

And he's a really key part of, um...

0:26:360:26:39

some of the records that came out of America.

0:26:390:26:43

# The only one that could ever reach me

0:26:430:26:46

# Was the son of a preacher man... #

0:26:460:26:48

At American, Bobby played rhythm guitar on classics

0:26:480:26:51

by Dusty Springfield, Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin.

0:26:510:26:55

# Sweet baby

0:26:550:26:57

# There's something that I've just got to say... #

0:26:580:27:01

He had become the hottest session guitar player in the country

0:27:010:27:06

and I said, "Wow, he'll break through this way."

0:27:060:27:10

So, that was a good time for him.

0:27:100:27:13

Just that little short period changed his life.

0:27:130:27:16

After four years existing in other artist shadows,

0:27:170:27:20

Bobby was finally offered the chance to record an album of his own.

0:27:200:27:24

That's a man who pays his dues, comes up through the ranks...

0:27:260:27:32

..and then all of a sudden the spotlight

0:27:330:27:35

hits the soldier because he's shining so brightly.

0:27:350:27:41

Bobby Womack.

0:27:410:27:42

# All the leaves are brown

0:27:440:27:49

# And the sky is grey

0:27:520:27:55

# I went for a walk

0:27:560:27:58

# On a winter's day

0:28:010:28:03

# I'd be safe... #

0:28:050:28:06

Bobby had given Wilson Pickett most of his own songs,

0:28:060:28:10

so his 1968 debut included a number of cover versions.

0:28:100:28:14

# Yeah, California dreamin'... #

0:28:140:28:17

One of my favourite songs, California Dreamin',

0:28:170:28:19

because he just totally takes the arrangement and makes it his own.

0:28:190:28:23

When I sang it, I thought of a lot of gospel singers, you know,

0:28:230:28:28

and the trademarks that made them known.

0:28:280:28:32

# And I got down on my bended knees

0:28:320:28:36

# And I began to pray... #

0:28:360:28:38

Bobby's cover versions were imaginative reworkings

0:28:380:28:42

from the soul, jazz and pop worlds.

0:28:420:28:44

You couldn't really say that Bobby Womack is a soul artist

0:28:440:28:47

or an R&B artist or a pop artist - he's all of those things.

0:28:470:28:51

# Whoa...

0:28:510:28:53

# Somebody help me now. #

0:28:540:28:57

This guy got to be in the game again,

0:28:570:29:01

it got him out of the post-Sam Cooke funk.

0:29:010:29:04

As he said, "My people started digging me again".

0:29:040:29:08

# Why you want to meet me? Why you want to go? #

0:29:080:29:11

Bobby sensed he'd finally been forgiven for marrying

0:29:110:29:14

Barbara Cooke when he played a gig in Chicago, Sam Cooke's hometown.

0:29:140:29:18

So I just walked that day and talked from my heart

0:29:200:29:24

of how everything happened

0:29:240:29:25

and how I'd been accused and how I've lived with, you know,

0:29:250:29:29

trying to be a performer.

0:29:290:29:31

Well, when I'm finished,

0:29:310:29:33

I got a standing ovation and it was jam-packed.

0:29:330:29:36

Ladies and gentlemen, Bobby Womack. Bobby Womack.

0:29:360:29:40

APPLAUSE

0:29:400:29:41

# Whoa, baby

0:29:470:29:48

# Girl... #

0:29:530:29:55

At the start of the 1970s, Los Angeles

0:29:550:29:57

was becoming the centre of the American music business.

0:29:570:30:00

# Don't do it, baby... #

0:30:000:30:02

Bobby Womack was there

0:30:020:30:03

and ready to capitalise on his recent solo breakthrough.

0:30:030:30:07

The industry has not been corporatised yet,

0:30:070:30:10

so there's a sort of looseness and fluidity to it

0:30:100:30:13

it's all about the hanging - nothing's planned.

0:30:130:30:16

It was within this laid-back world that Bobby received a call

0:30:180:30:22

that would place him at the very heart of a rock music tragedy.

0:30:220:30:25

Janis Joplin calls me.

0:30:270:30:29

I had never met Janis Joplin and she said,

0:30:290:30:32

"This is Janis Joplin,"

0:30:320:30:34

so I said, "Yes, this is James Brown."

0:30:340:30:36

And she said, "No, this is Janis Joplin for real.

0:30:360:30:39

"Everybody records your songs.

0:30:390:30:42

"I feel like I've got to record something of yours."

0:30:420:30:45

And the queen bee of the hippies, Janis Joplin, summons

0:30:450:30:49

you to the recording studio to hear your tunes and cuts Trust Me.

0:30:490:30:54

# Trust in me, baby

0:30:540:30:57

# Give me time, give me time

0:30:570:31:01

# Mmm, give me time. #

0:31:010:31:03

Nine days after Janis recorded Trust Me,

0:31:050:31:08

Bobby visited her at LA's Landmark hotel.

0:31:080:31:11

I could tell she had been through a lot of hurt in her life,

0:31:130:31:16

which I could relate to.

0:31:160:31:18

I fell in love with her just as a person, you know.

0:31:180:31:22

# It just takes time to grow... #

0:31:220:31:25

Janis absolutely wanted to be black

0:31:250:31:29

and Bobby was kind of interested

0:31:290:31:31

in crossing over to the rock world.

0:31:310:31:36

But Janis and Bobby's friendship would be short-lived.

0:31:360:31:40

When I met her, I was doing drugs

0:31:400:31:42

and I was saying to her, "You know what?

0:31:420:31:45

"You should try this." And she said,

0:31:450:31:47

"No, cocaine is an upper, I don't... I want a downer."

0:31:470:31:52

So I was scared to mess with that cos you do that with a needle.

0:31:520:31:57

When Janis's drug dealer rang from the hotel lobby,

0:31:570:32:00

she asked Bobby to leave.

0:32:000:32:02

Just hours later, Janis died of a heroin overdose.

0:32:050:32:09

# It's growing stronger day by day... #

0:32:090:32:13

Janis wasn't the only musical maverick that Bobby clicked with

0:32:200:32:24

in the City of Angels.

0:32:240:32:25

One of the biggest black superstars of the day had recently

0:32:250:32:29

moved from San Francisco to LA's exclusive Bel Air neighbourhood.

0:32:290:32:34

A mutual friend introduced Bobby Womack to Sly Stone.

0:32:340:32:39

Sly had revolutionised black music,

0:32:420:32:44

infusing soul with psychedelic funk rhythms.

0:32:440:32:48

Bobby Womack and Sly Stone are similar spirits, you know,

0:32:490:32:53

they come from the same planet.

0:32:530:32:56

I don't know the name of it and I don't think they do either.

0:32:560:33:00

Bobby and Sly both have gospel backgrounds

0:33:000:33:03

and their fathers were God-fearing people, so they had that in common.

0:33:030:33:08

At Sly's Bel Air mansion, they cut a dark funk masterpiece.

0:33:100:33:14

Every time you come to Sly's house, he was in the studio playing,

0:33:160:33:21

so I pick up a guitar and start playing with him.

0:33:210:33:23

So he said, "What's that you're doing?"

0:33:230:33:25

I said, "Oh, man, I'm just adding something to it,

0:33:250:33:28

"bringing something to the table." And then I said,

0:33:280:33:30

"Man, I've got a terrific idea for an intro." He said,

0:33:300:33:33

"Let me hear it" and I'd played it

0:33:330:33:35

and he said, "Man that's incredible."

0:33:350:33:36

INTRO PLAYS: It's A Family Affair

0:33:360:33:38

# It's a family affair

0:33:410:33:45

# It's a family affair... #

0:33:450:33:49

Family Affair hit the very top of the US pop charts in 1971.

0:33:490:33:54

Disc jockeys in LA, they would say stuff like,

0:33:540:33:58

"Sly Stone, It's A Family Affair, number 12 on tonight's top 30.

0:33:580:34:02

"Nice wah-wah guitar by California...

0:34:020:34:06

"LA's own Bobby Womack."

0:34:060:34:08

# Got to make it... #

0:34:100:34:13

Bobby's crazy Bel Air days with Sly helped him

0:34:140:34:17

tap into a new musical language for his 1971 album Communication.

0:34:170:34:23

What Bobby Womack, I think, learnt from Sly is the daring

0:34:230:34:27

and that there's nothing you cannot do.

0:34:270:34:30

# It's the situation

0:34:300:34:32

# It's not the generation

0:34:340:34:37

# That keep gettin' on this nation. #

0:34:380:34:41

It's funky and passionate and loose

0:34:410:34:44

and it's got gospel in there and it's got, you know, rock in there.

0:34:440:34:49

# Wow! You got... #

0:34:490:34:52

He caught a wave of black artists

0:34:520:34:55

who were sort of reinventing themselves.

0:34:550:34:58

After 18 years in the business,

0:34:580:35:00

Communication was Bobby's very first album

0:35:000:35:03

for a major record label, United Artists.

0:35:030:35:06

It was a significant hit.

0:35:060:35:08

Bobby was becoming a star.

0:35:080:35:09

OK, we're back with Bobby Womack

0:35:090:35:11

and Bobby, we're going to turn the questioning

0:35:110:35:13

over to The Soul Chain Gang, OK?

0:35:130:35:15

-Yeah.

-That OK?

-You got a question, Miss?

0:35:150:35:18

I want to know, as for the records you've recorded in your lifetime,

0:35:180:35:21

which ones you like the best?

0:35:210:35:22

The one that I'm getting ready to do right now for you.

0:35:220:35:24

It's a song cos I think fellas just be giving women a hard time

0:35:240:35:27

and I feel it's unnecessary.

0:35:270:35:28

-Am I right or wrong about that?

-APPLAUSE

0:35:280:35:30

Am I right? Somebody say yeah!

0:35:300:35:32

ALL: Yeah!

0:35:320:35:33

There was a bass line that was on Marvin's What's Going On?

0:35:330:35:38

It was uptempo and I said,

0:35:380:35:41

"What would it be like to slow that down?" Slow it way down.

0:35:410:35:46

It was like...

0:35:460:35:47

And that's where Woman Gotta Have It came from.

0:35:590:36:01

# Oooh!

0:36:010:36:03

Fellas, I wonder would you mind if I talked to ya a minute?

0:36:040:36:06

You know, sometimes we have a tendency or - should I say? -

0:36:080:36:11

we forget what a woman needs every now and then.

0:36:110:36:15

That is if you want to keep your thing together.

0:36:190:36:23

Listen to me now.

0:36:230:36:25

# Do the things that keeps a smile on her face

0:36:250:36:30

# Say the things that make her feel better every day... #

0:36:300:36:35

Bobby's label objected to the song's opening monologue

0:36:370:36:40

in which he chastised insensitive male behaviour.

0:36:400:36:43

# If you don't... #

0:36:430:36:45

They call me and they asked me,

0:36:450:36:49

"Do you think you could get Bobby

0:36:490:36:51

"to take the monologue off the front?"

0:36:510:36:54

I said, "I'll ask him."

0:36:540:36:55

So I asked him and he said, "No, I'm not taking it off."

0:36:550:37:00

# Oh, a woman gotta have it I believe...

0:37:000:37:03

Bobby sang Woman Gotta Have It, Bobby meant Woman Gotta Have It,

0:37:030:37:07

even when he gets mad about it when they demand to have it.

0:37:070:37:11

But...!

0:37:110:37:13

But he meant it. It was a sincere thing.

0:37:130:37:16

# Oh, she wants to know that she's not walking on shaky ground. #

0:37:160:37:20

Bobby's refusal to budge paid off.

0:37:200:37:23

His message insisting men show more understanding hit home.

0:37:230:37:26

The single became his first number one on the black charts

0:37:260:37:29

bringing him a much bigger female audience.

0:37:290:37:32

# Don't take for granted the smile on her face

0:37:330:37:38

# Check a little bit closer

0:37:380:37:40

# You might find a tear trace. #

0:37:400:37:43

He touches men just as deeply and they call and they cry

0:37:430:37:49

and they want advice on what to do with their woman and they have

0:37:490:37:52

their own story, so I think he's a people's man, not a ladies' man.

0:37:520:37:57

# True love... #

0:37:570:37:59

But Bobby's ambitions didn't stop after reaching number one.

0:37:590:38:03

In the early '70s,

0:38:080:38:09

black soul stars like Isaac Hayes were writing the soundtracks

0:38:090:38:12

to tough urban black action movies exploding across cinema screens.

0:38:120:38:17

Bobby wanted to be a part of this, but United Artists didn't

0:38:180:38:22

believe he had the experience to write a film score.

0:38:220:38:25

And they say, "But you never did it."

0:38:250:38:27

I say, "Yeah, but there's a lot of people never did anything

0:38:270:38:30

"until they did it, that's when they became known for what they do."

0:38:300:38:33

I think what drives Bobby is people telling him that he can't.

0:38:330:38:38

United Artists were producing a black crime movie.

0:38:410:38:44

Impressed with Bobby's persistence, they finally relented,

0:38:440:38:47

but the pressure was now on to deliver.

0:38:470:38:51

And I know they didn't want me to do it,

0:38:510:38:52

they let me see the script one time, the picture, with no music,

0:38:520:38:58

one time and they said, "That's it," and...

0:38:580:39:01

"Plus you have to finish the music to all of it within two weeks,

0:39:030:39:07

"so the movie will be coming out."

0:39:070:39:09

And I'm going on tour, so I says, "This is crazy."

0:39:090:39:12

Across 110th Street premiered in December 1972.

0:39:120:39:17

# I was the third brother of five... #

0:39:200:39:22

This was a drama about the gritty side of New York.

0:39:220:39:27

We see Central Park

0:39:270:39:30

and Across 110th Street in the opening

0:39:300:39:34

and then you finally smash cut into Harlem.

0:39:340:39:38

And you hear Bobby's voice,

0:39:390:39:42

and that wonderful orchestration.

0:39:420:39:45

Just the opening tune.

0:39:450:39:47

# Across 110th Street

0:39:470:39:49

# Pimps trying to catch a woman that's weak... #

0:39:490:39:54

I mean, it just broke it down.

0:39:540:39:58

It was definitely a part of the movie, a character in the movie.

0:39:580:40:02

# ..Across 110th Street

0:40:020:40:04

# A woman trying to catch a trick on the street

0:40:040:40:08

# Take my advice, it's either live or die

0:40:080:40:12

# You've got to be strong If you want to survive... #

0:40:120:40:16

At that time, in New York,

0:40:160:40:20

the record stores had speakers outside of the shops.

0:40:200:40:25

# In every city, you find the same thing going down... #

0:40:250:40:30

Across 110th Street was so popular

0:40:300:40:33

there was nowhere that you could go and you wouldn't hear it.

0:40:330:40:37

So, for a while, Across 110th Street was the anthem in New York City.

0:40:370:40:42

# Across 110th Street

0:40:420:40:45

# Pushers won't let the junkie go free

0:40:450:40:49

# Oh... #

0:40:490:40:51

Unlike other famous blaxploitation film scores,

0:40:510:40:53

Bobby did something unconventional.

0:40:530:40:56

He wove his life experiences into the title track.

0:40:560:40:58

# Across 110th Street... #

0:40:580:41:01

I was just writing the truth. Doing whatever I had to do to survive.

0:41:010:41:05

I'm not saying what I did was all right,

0:41:050:41:08

but trying to break out of the ghetto was a day-to-day fight.

0:41:080:41:11

# ..In the street

0:41:110:41:13

# Yes, you can... #

0:41:130:41:16

When you hear Bobby Womack, there is such a mixture of heaven and hell

0:41:160:41:21

at the same time coming at you.

0:41:210:41:24

You can hear the church AND the streets.

0:41:240:41:27

That's just what it is.

0:41:270:41:30

# Ooooh... #

0:41:300:41:37

# Don't let me down, don't you let me down

0:41:370:41:40

# Don't let me down, don't let me down... #

0:41:400:41:43

After writing the acclaimed songs to Across 110th Street,

0:41:430:41:48

Bobby released two more albums that cemented the Womack sound.

0:41:480:41:53

# I'm doing the best that I can do... #

0:41:530:41:56

A lot of those records were coming from curiosity,

0:41:560:42:00

living the fast life, and being a hopeless romantic.

0:42:000:42:06

# I can't stop holding on... #

0:42:060:42:10

He can make you laugh and he can make you cry.

0:42:100:42:14

You can feel the up, you are lifted.

0:42:140:42:17

And you can feel the down

0:42:170:42:19

when he is pleading in the ballads that he is so famous for.

0:42:190:42:24

# Girl, let me tell you something and I hope you understand... #

0:42:240:42:29

You got some wisdom cos you suffer some pain.

0:42:290:42:33

You can tell almost anybody,

0:42:330:42:35

"Pull up a seat, sit down, and listen to me talk to you."

0:42:350:42:37

# ..I'm not saying I'm doing you wrong

0:42:370:42:40

# But if you don't believe I'm working

0:42:400:42:43

# Why are you staying at home? #

0:42:430:42:45

He never went super smooth.

0:42:450:42:48

There was always a sandpaper vocal.

0:42:480:42:51

# Stop on by... #

0:42:510:42:56

He just hits a certain melancholy inside you.

0:42:560:43:02

I just love that acoustic guitar

0:43:080:43:11

and his relationship with that instrument.

0:43:110:43:15

You know, people always ask me, saying,

0:43:150:43:17

"Bobby, why do you always talk before you sing?

0:43:170:43:21

"You know, in songs you always have something to say."

0:43:210:43:25

It's like a jam session.

0:43:250:43:27

You're sort of hanging out with Bobby

0:43:270:43:29

when you listen to Bobby's records.

0:43:290:43:31

At some level, you're hanging out with Bobby Womack!

0:43:310:43:34

# It's 5 o'clock AM

0:43:370:43:40

# But the party is still going strong... #

0:43:400:43:44

By the mid '70s, Bobby was living at Firenze Place in LA's Laurel Canyon.

0:43:440:43:50

Now divorced from Barbara Cooke, he'd remarried

0:43:500:43:53

and was whooping it up with rock stars.

0:43:530:43:55

# ..And the FM music is grooving

0:43:550:43:58

# Folks getting down... #

0:43:580:44:00

His place was like a party place every night.

0:44:000:44:03

You could go in there and not make out until the next day.

0:44:030:44:07

But all of these people would be there.

0:44:090:44:11

I remember Ronnie Wood used to come up here all the time.

0:44:110:44:16

Crazy, it was frantic in Firenze!

0:44:170:44:20

We always used to get high together,

0:44:200:44:22

so you'd never get a sensible conversation.

0:44:220:44:25

We'd immediately get the acoustic guitars out.

0:44:250:44:28

That's the way we'd talk. He'd go, "Hey, Woody!" Dow-dow-dow.

0:44:280:44:31

And I go, "Oh!" Ba-ba-ba. Then we'd start playing.

0:44:310:44:35

And then he'd say, "I got this idea," and then he'd play it

0:44:350:44:37

and I'd join in immediately and get it straight away.

0:44:370:44:42

Or I'd have an idea, and he'd join in immediately,

0:44:420:44:45

playing upside down or the other way. Like Hendrix!

0:44:450:44:48

So, he found craziness in Laurel Canyon.

0:44:480:44:51

It wasn't a world of, "Go to the gym", "Change your diet",

0:44:510:44:55

"Here's your nutritionist".

0:44:550:44:57

People had fun.

0:44:570:44:58

But the Laurel Canyon high-life was suspended

0:45:000:45:03

when a tragic event happened at Firenze Place.

0:45:030:45:06

I have the strong memory of my brother being killed right there.

0:45:060:45:11

Strong memory.

0:45:110:45:13

Harry Womack, Bobby's younger sibling, had been with him

0:45:130:45:16

in The Womack Brothers and The Valentinos.

0:45:160:45:19

In 1974, he was murdered by a jealous girlfriend.

0:45:190:45:23

I was in Seattle at the time.

0:45:230:45:26

But I jumped on the first plane getting back.

0:45:260:45:29

And he was laying in the hallway,

0:45:290:45:31

where he'd been hit.

0:45:310:45:34

# Sha-na-na-na

0:45:340:45:36

# Sha-na-na-na

0:45:360:45:39

# Sha-na-na-na... #

0:45:390:45:43

Bobby had always associated his earlier hit song Harry Hippie with his brother.

0:45:430:45:48

# Harry Hippie

0:45:500:45:53

# Lies asleep in the shade

0:45:540:45:58

# Life don't bug him

0:45:590:46:01

# Whoa, he thinks he's got it made

0:46:010:46:03

# He never worry

0:46:070:46:09

# About nothin' in particular

0:46:110:46:13

# Oh, he might even sell a Free Press on sunset

0:46:150:46:20

# I'd like to help a man

0:46:210:46:23

# If I see him falling down, falling down

0:46:240:46:27

# But somebody tell me, how can you help him

0:46:270:46:31

# If he's sleeping on the ground

0:46:310:46:33

# You know what I'm saying, I said... #

0:46:330:46:35

'I could never find myself capable of singing it without crying

0:46:350:46:39

'because it wasn't fun any more, this was real.'

0:46:390:46:43

# But he still walks around all day long singing this song

0:46:430:46:48

# Sha-na-na-na

0:46:480:46:51

# Sha-na-na-na

0:46:510:46:54

# Sha-na-na-na-na-na... #

0:46:550:46:59

By the middle of the decade, Bobby Womack was a major soul star

0:47:040:47:10

and highly respected by other artists.

0:47:100:47:13

He was very much a deacon in the church of musicians.

0:47:130:47:17

But he hadn't achieved the commercial pop heights that his label hoped for.

0:47:170:47:22

Bobby was determined to be his own man

0:47:220:47:24

and didn't always fit with the conventional soul singer image.

0:47:240:47:29

He was often photographed with an acoustic guitar.

0:47:290:47:33

He looked like a singer-songwriter in a way.

0:47:330:47:38

I really don't think Bobby ever looked at many things and said,

0:47:380:47:42

"I better not do that."

0:47:420:47:45

In 1976, Bobby made a surprising musical swerve

0:47:450:47:50

that panicked his label and pushed his musical career to the brink.

0:47:500:47:55

My manager started talking to me, and said,

0:47:550:47:57

"Bobby, if I go country, would you go country with me?" And I said, "Yup."

0:47:570:48:01

I told them, I said, "I'm cutting a country-and-western album."

0:48:040:48:08

They thought I was losing my mind.

0:48:080:48:10

They definitely didn't want him to name it what HE wanted to name it.

0:48:100:48:14

The title was crazy.

0:48:140:48:16

It was called Step Aside Charlie Pride, Give Another Nigger A Try.

0:48:160:48:21

And they said, "No, no, no. That'll never happen."

0:48:210:48:25

They finally settled on BW Goes CW.

0:48:250:48:28

But that was after a whole lot of tooth-pulling.

0:48:280:48:32

I did everything I wanted to do.

0:48:320:48:33

I got all my brothers on horses, my dad is on it.

0:48:330:48:38

Don't get no better than that.

0:48:380:48:40

But Bobby's ill-judged decision to go country

0:48:420:48:46

was a commercial disaster.

0:48:460:48:47

When you sit there with a western motif with a kind of a cowboy thing,

0:48:470:48:52

it did not connect with people.

0:48:520:48:55

Radio people didn't know what to do t the record.

0:48:550:48:59

I liked the cover, don't remember playing the album much.

0:48:590:49:03

United Artists had now had enough of Bobby Womack.

0:49:030:49:07

And then they sold my contract to Columbia.

0:49:070:49:10

Cos they said, "This guy is gone."

0:49:100:49:13

Disco music blew up in the very same year

0:49:160:49:19

Bobby released his country album.

0:49:190:49:22

Disco music did not make sense to Bobby.

0:49:220:49:25

I just did the disco dances.

0:49:270:49:29

Bobby actually pointed out to me

0:49:290:49:33

that you're not listening to the music,

0:49:330:49:36

how could you enjoy this music when it's like this and it's like that?

0:49:360:49:40

And this instrument is doing this? And it didn't make sense to him.

0:49:400:49:44

Maybe there was a feeling that Bobby Womack was a relic of another era

0:49:440:49:50

that all of us didn't want to get associated with.

0:49:500:49:54

Disco wiped out the careers of most soul artists in the late '70s.

0:49:540:49:59

Bobby just clung on but he did record a hit single

0:49:590:50:03

and was bumped from label to label.

0:50:030:50:06

# Once I lived a life

0:50:130:50:14

# Of a millionaire

0:50:140:50:16

# Spending my money, honey

0:50:170:50:19

# Oh, I didn't care

0:50:190:50:21

# Taking my friends out

0:50:240:50:27

# For a mighty good time

0:50:270:50:29

# Drinking that good gin and liquor

0:50:310:50:34

# Champagne and wine

0:50:340:50:36

# Oh, just as soon as my money got low

0:50:380:50:42

# Couldn't find my friends And I had no place to go... #

0:50:430:50:47

Nobody wants you when you're down and out,

0:50:470:50:50

but sometimes you got to lose to win.

0:50:500:50:53

There was also more heartbreak in Bobby's personal life.

0:50:530:50:57

In 1978, his infant son died, traumatising him and his wife.

0:50:570:51:02

Although Bobby was already a drug user,

0:51:020:51:05

these tough times accelerated his intake.

0:51:050:51:09

I mean, you can deal with it better if you are intoxicated,

0:51:110:51:14

if you are out of your mind.

0:51:140:51:15

But it's taking your life at the same time.

0:51:150:51:19

You can't escape from yourself.

0:51:190:51:22

# Nobody wants you when you're down and out, let me tell you about it

0:51:220:51:27

# Nobody wants you

0:51:270:51:30

# Nobody wants you when you're down and out... #

0:51:300:51:33

# If you think you're lonely now

0:51:340:51:38

# Huh!

0:51:380:51:39

# Wait until tonight, girl... #

0:51:390:51:42

In 1981, Bobby channelled all of this despair into an acclaimed album, The Poet.

0:51:420:51:49

Him having the ability to express himself musically

0:51:490:51:53

through all of these dark situations has saved him.

0:51:530:51:58

All the adversity just made him stronger

0:52:010:52:04

and he had more things to write about, more things to feel.

0:52:040:52:09

You know, I made music to talk to people and say, "You're not alone."

0:52:110:52:16

# If you think you're lonely now... #

0:52:160:52:19

Suddenly, here's this album by a relative veteran,

0:52:200:52:24

you almost couldn't believe it.

0:52:240:52:27

Beautifully produced, beautifully sung,

0:52:270:52:29

like little emotional journeys.

0:52:290:52:32

The Poet reached the top of the Black Album Charts.

0:52:320:52:35

Bobby followed it with two more LPs

0:52:350:52:38

that completed his successful mid-'80s Poet Trilogy.

0:52:380:52:42

After Bobby's resurgence, he continued to release albums.

0:52:510:52:55

But by the late '90s, creatively, Bobby was drifting.

0:52:550:52:58

He made a gospel record, he tried this and he tried that.

0:52:590:53:04

And there've been, you know, slightly desperate choices.

0:53:040:53:08

I mean, did he need to make a Christmas album?

0:53:080:53:11

At the start of the new millennium,

0:53:110:53:13

Bobby stopped recording studio albums altogether.

0:53:130:53:17

At this point, my dad had the same regimen.

0:53:170:53:21

He went to bed by 10pm,

0:53:210:53:22

he would always lay like this and, like, grunt for hours.

0:53:220:53:27

And just be in his own thoughts.

0:53:270:53:29

It was sad for me to see someone waste their days.

0:53:290:53:33

Then, one morning, out of the blue, a package arrived in the mail.

0:53:330:53:38

So, I'm like, "Oh, you got a new CD?"

0:53:390:53:42

He's like, "Oh, that's some band that wants me to work with them.

0:53:420:53:45

"But I've never heard of them,

0:53:450:53:46

"and I listened to the tape and I don't understand it."

0:53:460:53:50

I'd never heard of the Gorillaz.

0:53:500:53:51

I had walked away from the business,

0:53:510:53:54

I really didn't want to be around it.

0:53:540:53:57

You know, he was used to some group from his time called The Monkees?

0:53:570:54:00

So, he was kind of, you know, putting them in the same family.

0:54:000:54:05

And, to me, I'm like, "No, this is one of the hugest bands right now."

0:54:050:54:09

Everything was done electronic,

0:54:090:54:11

and I said, "Oh, man, this is just effort."

0:54:110:54:13

Give me a real piano, give me a real this. The music had changed.

0:54:130:54:18

"Come on, if you don't it for you, do it for me.

0:54:180:54:20

"Just experiment, let's experience this. What else do you have to do?

0:54:200:54:24

"We're doing the same thing every day. Why not?"

0:54:240:54:28

# Yes, this love is electric

0:54:350:54:39

# It'll be flowing on the street... #

0:54:390:54:42

I was fascinated by the idea of Bobby Womack, it just seemed so,

0:54:420:54:46

sort of, right to me.

0:54:460:54:50

# Just to get through the week, sometimes it's hard... #

0:54:500:54:55

His voice in particular, just resonated emotionally with me.

0:54:550:54:58

So the chance to actually work with him was amazing.

0:54:580:55:02

Bobby reached a whole new audience through his work with the Gorillaz and Damon Albarn.

0:55:020:55:07

It was a really close relationship

0:55:070:55:11

and they talked about making a record together.

0:55:110:55:14

In 2011, Damon and Richard

0:55:140:55:17

began composing a full-length studio album with Bobby.

0:55:170:55:21

It was making a platform for Bobby. That's what it was about.

0:55:210:55:26

# I got a story

0:55:260:55:30

# I want to tell... #

0:55:300:55:33

Damon would come in with just a track

0:55:330:55:36

and we'd all fire off thoughts and ideas,

0:55:360:55:40

it was a very open process.

0:55:400:55:42

When you give Bobby a melody,

0:55:420:55:44

it doesn't come out how you gave him.

0:55:440:55:46

It comes out Bobby-fied.

0:55:460:55:49

# ..I once was lost

0:55:490:55:52

# But now I'm found... #

0:55:540:55:56

It was like super people with no intentions

0:55:560:56:01

but to make good music for super people that need to hear it.

0:56:010:56:04

Richard and Damon were very keen on having Bobby's life story be told.

0:56:040:56:11

# I could try to say I'm sorry

0:56:110:56:16

# But that won't be quite enough... #

0:56:190:56:23

I found myself crying in the bathroom a lot because I felt

0:56:240:56:28

like the album covered so much of who he was and who he is now.

0:56:280:56:34

There's just extraordinary emotional gravitas in the voice.

0:56:370:56:41

# ..If you feel like the sky is falling... #

0:56:410:56:45

I love the new setting for this voice, for this old friend of mine

0:56:450:56:50

that I've followed and listened to all my life.

0:56:500:56:53

# ..Where did I go wrong? #

0:56:530:56:57

The spirit is still there, the voice and the message has not left.

0:56:570:57:01

# ..Where did it all begin? #

0:57:010:57:05

On its release in 2012,

0:57:050:57:07

The Bravest Man In The Universe was acclaimed as one of the finest albums of the year.

0:57:070:57:13

It was a glorious return for Bobby Womack.

0:57:130:57:17

APPLAUSE

0:57:170:57:21

# I was the third brother of five

0:57:240:57:27

# Doing whatever I had to do to survive... #

0:57:280:57:31

I doubt if he would want to change a thing.

0:57:310:57:34

And to still have a guitar in his hand

0:57:340:57:37

and for people to be wanting more,

0:57:370:57:40

that's got to be a very satisfying place.

0:57:400:57:43

# ..Been down so long... #

0:57:430:57:48

He's not just a soul man, he's a poet, he's a country singer,

0:57:480:57:52

he's a balladeer, he's a preacher. That's what makes him so compelling.

0:57:520:57:57

# Across 110th Street is a hell of a tester

0:57:570:58:01

# Across 110th Street... #

0:58:010:58:05

He's risen above it all and is still standing and is still the man.

0:58:050:58:10

Sometimes you're lost, trying to find your way.

0:58:100:58:14

And that's basically it.

0:58:140:58:16

Everybody's lost and trying to find their way. You have to go through it to get to it.

0:58:160:58:20

# Oh!

0:58:200:58:22

# Across 110th Street

0:58:220:58:26

# You can find it all

0:58:260:58:32

# Across 110th Street. #

0:58:340:58:37

I'm done.

0:58:430:58:45

-APPLAUSE

-Thank you so much.

0:58:450:58:47

# Where there's a will, there's a way

0:58:470:58:50

# Where there's a will, there's a way

0:58:500:58:52

# Where there's a goal, there's a stage

0:58:520:58:55

# Where there's a goal, there's a stage

0:58:550:58:57

# Where there's a stage, there's a play

0:58:570:58:59

# Where there's a stage, there's a play

0:58:590:59:01

# Where there's a will, there's a way

0:59:010:59:04

# Where there's a will, there's a way. #

0:59:040:59:06

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:59:120:59:16

Bobby Womack's musical career has been an almost unprecedented rollercoaster ride.

Starting off on the streets of segregated America, Womack launched himself into what became an epic adventure. In the 1950s as a youngster he was travelling the gospel highway with the Womack Brothers. By the 1960s, he was being mentored by Sam Cooke who schooled him in the ways of R&B, while James Brown also drilled him into shape. Soon, the Rolling Stones and Wilson Pickett were queuing up to record his songs.

In the early 1970s, not long after Janis Joplin covered one of his compositions, Bobby was with her just hours before she died. He played rhythm guitar on Sly & the Family Stone's Family Affair before becoming a major soul star in his own right with hits like Across 110th Street, Woman's Gotta Have It and Harry Hippie.

In the second half of the 1970s, his disastrous country and western album, as well as disco mania, savaged his career. But Bobby rose again in the 1980s with his famed 'Poet' trilogy of albums. Then, after semi-retirement and a stint with the Gorillaz, he recorded 2012's The Bravest Man in the Universe album with Damon Albarn. It was the start of a magnificent Indian summer for one of soul music's greatest artists.

With incredible access to Bobby Womack himself, plus contributions from Ronnie Wood, Damon Albarn, Bill Withers, Chuck D, Antonio Fargas, as well as close family and friends, this film brings one of the most diverse and fascinating post-war musical careers vividly to life.


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