Singer Bobby Womack married Sam Cooke’s widow today (February 24, 1965).
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The marriage was scandalous from the start and since Bobby Womack wasn’t even 21 years old yet, he had to receive his parents’ permission.
But the main issue was the fact that Sam Cooke’s family was still grieving over his death, which had occurred just three months earlier.
It was Sam Cooke who discovered Bobby Womack and The Womack Brothers, Cleveland natives who were signed to Sam Cooke’s label SAR Records.
As The Valentinos, Sam Cooke had produced the group’s single “Looking For a Love,” as well as “It’s All Over Now,” which was re-recorded by The Rolling Stones.
But on December 11, 1964 music history would be changed, when Sam Cooke was shot and killed by a motel owner in East Los Angeles.
Within months of Sam Cooke’s death, Barbara Cook was flashing a new engagement ring that was a gift from Sam’s friend Bobby Womack, who had just proposed to her.
To make matters worse, Bobby had been seen driving around Los Angeles in Sam’s car, along with his wife, and he was even wearing the late singer’s clothes.
This was too much for most of Sam Cooke’s family members, including his brother Charles Cooke Jr.
When Bobby Womack and his new wife Barbara decided to go to Chicago that summer, they ended up in a violent confrontation with Charles.
Charles, 38, went to pay the Womack’s a visit at a local motel, for what he described as a “personal talk.”
Charles had told Bobby in so many words that he would be assaulted if he ever showed his face in Chicago.
Bobby Womack had decided he would not live his life in fear after marrying Barbara, so he phoned ahead to let Charles know that he would be in Chicago to attend the wedding of Sam Cooke’s niece.
Barbara had loaded a gun with bullets in anticipation of the visit, while Bobby Womack also prepared for the altercation.
“I figured if Charlie was going to do something, I wanted to get it over and done with,” Bobby Womack said in his autobiography “Midnight Mover: The True Story of the Greatest Soul Singer in the World.”
“Barbara and I flew to Chicago,” Womack said. “We checked into the Roberts Motel and I called Charlie. I told him ‘I’m here. We’re in 2112. In the motel room, Barbara busied herself loading bullets into a pistol. Barbara had a mean streak in her.”
When Charles arrived with his brothers David and L.C., he pistol whipped Bobby and beat him to the point that his teeth went through his lips, rendering him unconscious.
“I opened the door and Charlie punched me. He beat me so bad my whole head swelled up like a melon…he even broke my jaw,” Bobby Womack revealed.
Barbara attempted to fire the gun at Charlie, but Bobby Womack had already taken the bullets out of the pistol, just before Charles and the rest of Sam’s brothers arrived.
Charles Cooke was hit with a number of charges, including assault.
He was released on $1,000 bail, but since Bobby Womack refused to prosecute Charles, the charges were eventually dropped.
For all of their troubles and tribulations, Bobby Womack’s marriage to Barbara Cooke ended in 1970.
According to Bobby, he was also having sex with Sam Cooke’s teenaged daughter Linda, which was too much for Barbara to take.
Bobby Womack and Barbara Cooke Womack eventually divorced in 1970.
Sam Cooke’s daughter Linda went on to marry Bobby Womack’s brother Cecil Womack.
Linda and Cecil eventually had seven children together and moved to Africa, where they changed their name to the Zekkarriyas
Cecil Womack passed away on February 1, 2013 in South Africa.