May 21, 2017 – Curtis Womack (The Valentinos) was born on October 22, 1942 in Charleston, West Virginia, U.S.A. He was second oldest of the five Womack Brothers (Friendly, Curtis, Bobby, Harry, Cecil), and started singing together with his siblings at their father’s church in Cleveland. In 1954, they formally were named Curtis Womack and the Womack brothers with Curtis and, occasionally, Bobby singing lead.
Their first single, Buffalo Bill, was released on the Pennant label with both lead singers were only 10 and, after Sam Cooke saw them perform, he promised to help them with their careers in any way he could. That happened in 1960 when he started his SAR imprint and signed the brothers to the label, releasing gospel singles in 1961 and 1962.
After the singles flopped, Cooke suggested that the group start recording secular sides so, changing their name to the Valentinos and putting Bobby out front, they recorded their first single, Lookin’ for a Love which went to number 8 on the R&B singles and 72 on the Hot 100 in 1962, going on to sell two million copies. The hit landed them an opening spot on James Brown & The Famous Flames’ national tour. The song later became a solo hit for Bobby along with the J. Geils Band.
Their second and final charting single was It’s All Over Now which was co-written between Bobby and his sister-in-law Shirley. The song only made it to 94 on the R&B singles, as it was totally eclipsed by the Rolling Stones’ version of the song. (The Stones had heard the song, loved it and immediately dove into the studio to record their version, which became no. 1 on both sides of the Atlantic.)
The Valentinos continued to record but their mentor, Cooke, was killed in December 1964. The group broke up and Bobby went solo. A short while later, the four brothers reformed and Chess Records picked up the group in 1966 where they released two singles.
Curtis continued to work with the Valentinos after Cecil left the group and they signed with Jubilee Records with the help of Cecil’s new wife, Mary Wells. They recorded two more singles before, once again, breaking up.
During the 70’s, Curtis and Friendly sang backup vocals for Hall of Fame brother Bobby Womack’s hit recordings, which were finally starting to take hold. They also charted with the 1973 hit ‘I Can Understand It’.
Following the murder of Harry Womack in 1974, the group went their seperate ways. After Cecil and Mary Wells, divorced, she entered a relationship with Curtis and, in 1986, they had a daughter, Sugar.
He acted in several movies between 1987 and 2008, such as City Rhythms, Unsung and Dancin’ in the Street.
Curtis Womack died on May 21 at the Bluefield Regional Medical Center in Bluefield, WV from respiratory heart failure. He was 74.
Curtis is survived by his five children and thirteen grandchildren, as well as his his wife, Bernice Carruthers, and his brother Friendly, who is now the last surviving Womack brother.