Veteran soul singer Bobby Womack has been diagnosed with early signs of Alzheimer’s disease after forgetting song lyrics and the names of collaborators, he told the BBC. It’s the latest health complication for the singer, who last year was hospitalized with pneumonia and had surgery for colon cancer.
Womack, 68, opened up about his memory lapses to Giles Peterson on BBC 6 Music. “The doctor said, ‘You have signs of Alzheimer’s,'” Womack said. “He said it’s not bad yet, but it’s going to get worse.”
After getting his start singing with his brothers in the Valentinos (the Rolling Stones’ first Number One hit came on a version of the Womack-penned song “It’s All Over Now”) and playing guitar for Sam Cooke, Womack launched a solo career in the late Sixties that included hits like “Lookin’ for a Love” and “That’s the Way I Feel About Cha.” Last year he released The Bravest Man in the Universe, his first album of new material since 1994. Blur’s Damon Albarn co-produced the LP. Womack told the BBC there was a moment when he blanked on Albarn’s name, and said he’s had trouble recalling his material.
“How can I not remember songs I wrote?” Womack said. “That’s frustrating.”
Womack was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.
UPDATE, 1/3: Womack has released the following statement regarding his diagnosis:
Thanks to all of my fans for their prayers and well wishes. I truly appreciate and can feel your love. With the support of many good doctors, my family, and all of my wonderful fans, I will continue to write and perform and bring the good music to the people for as long as I can.
– With much love, Bobby Womack.