R.I.P. Curtis Womack of the legendary Womack Brothers and The Valentinos

(May 29, 2017) We are very sad to inform SoulTrackers of the death, at age 74, of Curtis Womack, the second oldest member of the famous Womack Brothers and lead singer of their family act The Valentinos. He is also the father of noted guitarist and singer Curtis “Binky” Womack. Womack died at Bluefield Regional Medical Center in West Virginia.

The Valentinos, consisting of brothers Bobby, Cecil, Curtis, Harry and Friendly Womack, began in Cleveland in the early 1950s as the Gospel act Curtis Womack and The Womack Brothers, and scored a regional hit with the song “Buffalo Bill.” At the suggestion of group mentor Sam Cooke, The Valentinos began recording secular music on the SAR label, and hit the charts with “Lookin’ For a Love,” which later became a top 10 solo hit for Bobby Womack. They followed that by touring with James Brown and gathered a strong following in the R&B community.

(May 29, 2017) We are very sad to inform SoulTrackers of the death, at age 74, of Curtis Womack, the second oldest member of the famous Womack Brothers and lead singer of their family act The Valentinos. He is also the father of noted guitarist and singer Curtis “Binky” Womack. Womack died at Bluefield Regional Medical Center in West Virginia.

The Valentinos, consisting of brothers Bobby, Cecil, Curtis, Harry and Friendly Womack, began in Cleveland in the early 1950s as the Gospel act Curtis Womack and The Womack Brothers, and scored a regional hit with the song “Buffalo Bill.” At the suggestion of group mentor Sam Cooke, The Valentinos began recording secular music on the SAR label, and hit the charts with “Lookin’ For a Love,” which later became a top 10 solo hit for Bobby Womack. They followed that by touring with James Brown and gathered a strong following in the R&B community.

The 1964 death of Cooke brought turmoil and Bobby’s departure from the group. The Valentinos then signed with Chess Records and recorded a number of singles, including “Do It Right.” After Cecil Womack left the group (marrying Motown star Mary Wells), the remaining brothers, Curtis, Harry and Friendly, issued a couple more singles. They also backed Bobby on several of his 1970s hit songs, before landing on the charts one last time with the 45 “I Can Understand It” in 1973. Sadly, the murder of Harry in 1974, and a number of tragedies and messy personal entanglements for the other members, ended the Valentinos after more than twenty years, but still far too early. Brother Cecil Womack went on to form the revered duo, Womack and Womack, while Bobby Womack went on to become a Hall of Fame artist. They did in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

After The Valentinos, Curtis continued to sing in support of other artists, but never recorded on his own. However, he became active singing in the church where, his son Binky says, “He felt at peace.” He also went on to form a family, and his later life is described in his obituary in this way: “Curtis was just as much an entertainer off stage. He was known by all as a dynamic story teller, recounting his interesting life experiences in great details and dramatization. He painted vivid pictures of these captivating events as if they’d happened just yesterday. You could not contain your laughter while wondering just how much of his recollections were fact and how much was fiction.”

He is survived by his five children and thirteen grandchildren, as well as his his companion, Bernice Carruthers, and his brother Friendly, who is the last surviving Womack brother.

By Chris Rizik

 
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