Soul legend Bobby Womack may not have performed with every single important musician of the 1960s and '70s, but it sure seems that way.
His career first took off while working with Sam Cooke. He later performed with The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin, to name a few.
The 69-year-old singer was essentially retired when Gorillaz's Damon Albarn asked him to perform with his band.
That led to Womack's 2012 comeback album, "The Bravest Man in the Universe," which was co-produced by Albarn and found Womack singing his heart out over electronic soundscapes.
amNewYork spoke with Womack.
How did you get to know Damon?
Damon called me and said, "I've been trying to contact you. I got a group called Gorillaz." I never heard of Gorillaz. I told him, "Last time I was on the scene, there was a group called The Monkees." ? I said, "I haven't recorded in a while. You're judging me on what I did 20 years ago. A lot has happened since then." He said, "You ain't changed. It's still there."
Of all the people you've worked with, who influenced you the most?
I always say Sam Cooke, but I would have to say my father ? If it wasn't for dad, I wouldn't be doing this. Then Sam Cooke. After that, Wilson Pickett. ? I remember him saying, "Let's go to Atlantic [Records]. They're going to flip out over you." But they didn't flip out over me. He said, "Let me record those songs. They'll see Wilson Pickett and right under that will be your name." I thought he just wanted my songs, but he was right. Everything Pickett ever cut was a hit. I miss him dearly.
Why did you stop playing music for all those years?
I had been with so many artists and had gotten into drugs. ? When I saw how it had destroyed people, I said, "I'm getting away from the business." ? I'm proud of my life, the way I survived. I feel blessed to still be working and performing.