“I’m doing fine now, but I’ve been quite sick,” Bobby Womack told SPIN in June, upon the release of his electronic-leaning Damon Albarn collaboration The Bravest Man in the Universe. “I had prostate cancer. I had colon cancer. I had my lungs completely cave in. I had walking pneumonia twice and I’m a diabetic.”
Sadly, Womack can now likely add Alzheimer’s disease to that litany of misfortunes. “The doctor said you have signs of Alzheimer’s,” the soul great said in BBC 6 Music radio interview. “He said it’s not bad yet but it’s going to get worse.”
Womack acknowledged he forgets his own songs and his collaborators’ names. “How can I not remember songs that I wrote?” he’s quoted as saying. “That’s frustrating.”
Though Womack was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009, his personal life has been marked with tragedy. That includes the shooting death of his mentor Sam Cooke, the death of his brother Harry in a domestic dispute, and the deaths of two sons.
His voice, as Bravest Man proves, remains deeply powerful, even — especially? — when it’s communicating weakness.