Bobby Womack Confessed: “After Marrying Sam Cooke’s Wife My Family Abandoned Me”
This is further proof that our favorite entertainers aren’t perfect; they’re simply humans who create perfect music, but not perfect humans by far, just like the rest us. And boy oh boy, did our late, great soul legend Bobby Womack, have some problems to go with his musical success.
How Bobby Womack Ended Up Marrying Friend, Sam Cooke’s, Wife Wife
For starters, let’s dig into what Mr. Womack revealed in his book, about his family abandoning him after he married Barbara Cooke. Bobby married his mentor, Sam Cooke’s, wife, Barbara, just a few months after Sam was killed in 1964. That caught many by surprise, because they’re history goes way back. Sam helped Bobby and his brothers get a recording contract and they became good friends after that.
However, shortly after Cooke’s death, Womack offered counsel and comfort to Cooke’s widow, Barbara. But just three months after Cooke’s death -and just as Womack turned 21 years old- he went a step further, marrying Cooke’s still-grieving wife. He claimed she needed a shoulder to lean on at that time, so he went for it.
Womack’s Career Suffered & Cooke’s Brothers Beat Him
That caused a myriad of problems for Bobby Womack back then. Black radio reportedly abandoned him, by not playing any of his music for a long while.
Sam’s brothers beat him up in Chicago and wanted to kill him.
Then his own family abandoned him. According to Bobby Womack:
“My brothers were reluctant to be around me. They knew the threats that were out there against me for marrying Barbara (Sam Cooke’s widow). They didn’t know what to do, but without them I was totally alone, all by myself, and, because my father and mother had been against the marriage to Barbara, there was no family in my corner.”
Womack’s Momma Tried To Warn Him
“My mother had said, ‘I don’t think you should marry that woman, you don’t know anything about that woman. That’s Mrs. Cooke, that’s Sam’s wife.’
He told her “Mom I am getting married anyway.”
Womack Died In Debt
Decades later Bobby Womack left his family with more battles to conquer. Despite racking up on mega-hit songs Womack wrote for Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, and more, sadly, he was reportedly broke when he lost his battle to pneumonia, Alzheimer’s disease, and prostate cancer in 2014.
According to TMZ, after his passing his family were still allegedly trying to pay off debts left behind that include $250,000 back child support, which was stated in court docs by his widow, Regina Womack. Other debts included an unpaid loan for $400,000. Bobby Womack’s valued assets totaled approximately $7,250; and he reportedly had a cash reserve of $52,000…not enough to cover his debts.
Moral Of The Story
Like we always say – there is always a lesson, message, or example we can learn from Old School legends. But in this case, it’s clearly a message of what-not-to-do.
Was Mr. Womack wrong for marrying Sam Cooke’s wife? Absolutely YES. Should he have taken his Mother’s advice to NOT marry Sam’s wife? No doubt about it, because that was just foul.
However, do I also respect the brotha as an incredible artist and musician, just as many of you do? YES. And for that reason, it’s sad to see music legends who’ve given us some phenomenal bodies of work, like Bobby Womack, be dead broke, with nothing to leave to their loved ones at the end of their journey here. Some say that is deservingly bad karma for Womack, and others say that it’s simply unfair.
Regardless, there’s no denying that soul and blues music wouldn’t have been the same without hits like Bobby’s If You’re Think You’re Lonely Now, or Sam Cooke’s You Send Me and more. So, in honor of both of these legends, we simply say: “Thank You.”
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