1974 Bobby Womack – Lookin’ For A Love
Bobby Womack and his four brothers grew up in the slums of Cleveland. Their mother played the organ in church and their father was a part-time minister who also played the guitar. It’s no surprise that the five boys grew up to sing together in the church choir. They toured in the Midwest as a gospel group, The Womack Brothers, with Mom and Dad playing instrumental support. The family even recorded a single in 1954, Buffalo Bill by Curtis Womack and the Womack Brothers.
Sam Cooke was the lead singer of The Soul Stirrers, and he helped the brothers get serious about touring; they eventually toured nationally with The Staple Singers. Sam formed SAR Records and signed the brothers in 1961. They released a few unsuccessful gospel songs, after which Sam got them to change their name to the Valentinos and had them record secular music.
The brothers had recorded the gospel song Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray. Sam arranged and produced their first non-gospel single, Lookin’ For A Love, which was clearly based on the gospel song they had previously recorded. The single stalled at #72 on the Hot 100 in 1962, but reached #8 on the R&B chart and sold over two million copies. The record made it possible for the brothers to open for James Brown on a national tour. In early 1972, the song became the first charting single for the J. Geils Band.
Bobby co-wrote the group’s 1964 single, It’s All Over Now. Their record had just started to reach the charts when a British group recorded the song: The Rolling Stones. Bobby was upset at first that his record had been covered, but the significant royalty checks that started coming in from the Stones were a welcome source of income.
Sam was shot and killed in a hotel in December 1964, resulting in the closing of his record label and the dissolution of the Valentinos. In March 1965, one day after his 21st birthday, Bobby married Sam’s widow. This created a scandal that made it nearly impossible for Bobby to pursue a solo career for a few years, so he worked as a session musician and played guitar as part of Ray Charles’ touring band.
Bobby returned to recording in 1968 (with his brothers provided back-up vocals) and had a hit with a cover of California Dreaming. His single reached #20 on the R&B chart and just missed the top forty on the Hot 100. He recorded a series of records that just reached the bottom of the R&B top forty chart. He finally returned to the Hot 100 when he co-wrote and recorded That’s The Way I Feel About Cha in 1972. The single reached #27 on the Hot 100 and peaked at #2 on the R&B chart.
Woman’s Gotta Have It became his first #1 record on the R&B chart later that year, and two more records barely got into the Hot 100 top forty and the R&B top ten in 1972 and 1973.
Bobby re-recorded I’m Lookin’ For A Love as a solo record in 1974, and that became his most successful single. The record not only topped the R&B chart, but it also reached #10 on the Hot 100.
While Bobby never did well again on the pop charts, over the next eleven years, he had a half-dozen top ten hits on the R&B chart and nearly a dozen minor hits.
They inducted Bobby into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 2009. He died at age 70 in 2014.
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