By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Less pleased was Friendly Womack Sr., who kicked his sons out of the house upon learning of their intentions. "That was the first time I ever saw my daddy cry," Bobby says now, with audible sadness. Apprised of the situation, Cooke wired the boys money to come to Los Angeles.
"He said, 'Get on Route 66 and stay on it all the way.' I talked my oldest brother into buying a Cadillac, because that's what I saw all the pimps in the neighborhood driving. Of course, we get on the freeway and it starts to rain, the windshield wipers won't turn on, and the car's running out of gas every 15 seconds because the tank's got a hole in it . . . We wound up in the hospital for a week, because we were overcome by gas fumes. And then the headlights came off!
"Two weeks later, we show up in L.A., pushin' the car down Hollywood Boulevard, all of us with our doo-rags on. We called Sam, and he said, 'Man, where the hell are y'all?'
"'We on Sunset. The car ain't got no more gas.'"
RECORDING AS THE VALENTINOS, THE WOMACK BROTHERS did manage to achieve a modicum of pop success with early-'60s singles such as "It's All Over Now" and "Lookin' for a Love," but it would take until 1971 for Bobby to crack the pop Top 40 with "That's the Way I Feel About Cha."
"My autobiography is gonna be called Crossin' Over," he laughs. "The Stones were askin' me, 'What do you think you've spent most of your life doin'?' And I said, 'Tryin' to cross over.'" Though soulful in the extreme, Back to My Roots doesn't exactly seem like a good bet for crossover success, but Bobby remains unfazed.
"What have I got to lose? If I'm gonna be bigger, I'm gonna be bigger, but right now I'm doing the things that I want to do. It's not about the money.
"Ever since 'It's All Over Now,' I've been hearing people say, 'This doesn't fit our format.' I say, 'What is your format?' Sam used to say, 'It's white. If you cut it, you couldn't do nothing with it. But if Elvis Presley cut it, it's a No. 1 record.' As a black man, you always have to be five times better than the white man, just to be with him.
"But it works both ways. I was married to two black women, but out of all of my brothers, I was the only one who had kids who couldn't play instruments or write songs. I'd see their kids playin' and singin', and I'd go, 'I've got the wrong kids!'
"Then I met this white girl from Sweden. Our kid is 4 years old, with one blue eye and one brown. The other night, he comes out onstage with me, dancin' like James Brown, slidin' right up to the microphone. I picked him up and said, 'Where you been all my life?' Boy, I thought I knew it all, but it ain't got nothin' to do with color. It has everything to do with knowing who you are, and what you feel inside."