Womack had already lost one son, Vincent, who committed suicide and was still coming to terms with the death of his brother Harry, who was killed by a jealous girlfriend, when 4-month-old Truth (Womack’s first child with wife Regina) fell into a coma at the couple’s home in Woodland Hills, California in 1978 and died in the hospital a week later.
Bobby Womack admits he has never truly gotten over the tragedy and still blames himself for leaving the baby unattended on a bed.
In a candid and heartwrenching interview, Womack says, “I lost a son which was my fault and the only reason I can talk about it now is because I know what I’m saying. I’m not hiding behind anything.”
“I came in one night… from a convention and I was telling my lady, ‘Baby, you’ve gotta get up, I’ve got something to show you!’ And she said, ‘Can we do this tomorrow? You know the baby…’ I said, ‘That little baby can’t move. He can’t even walk. He’s taking five minutes to hold his head up…’ So she jumps up and I was telling her all these stories… It was no more than two minutes before she said, ‘OK, go and get my baby.’ I went running in to get the baby. The baby had fallen down between the bed and the wall and he suffocated and that was the biggest hurt ever in my life.”
The tragedy turned Womack onto hard drugs, which eventually robbed him of his creative edge – and he spent decades trying to get his passion for songwriting back.
He explains, “That death led to ‘There’s gotta be a better way… and from there, away I went. Every time I heard somebody had died – Johnnie Taylor or somebody else – instead of going to the funeral, I’d go and get high. Eventually I reached out to God and said, ‘Look, I’m in trouble. I don’t even know who I am.’ I wanted to get the true feeling back… My passion for music never died; I was just trying to figure out how you get it back.”
Last month, August 2011, Bobby Womack and his brothers, Friendly, Harry, Curtis and Cecil, were inducted into the West Virginia All-Black Schools Sports and Academic Hall of Fame.