Hello all! This edition of Tim’s Cover Story will focus on the song It’s All Over Now. As we will see the song initially appeared as a cross between rock and country from a group whose origins were in gospel music, and was then covered by one of the greatest British Invasion groups.
The Valentinos and It’s All Over Now:
Bobby Womack grew up in Cleveland and was pretty much a child prodigy, recording his first song at the age of 10! He initially gained attention as a singer-songwriter for his family group The Valentinos, which included brothers Cecil, Harry, Friendly Jr and Curtis. The group was managed and mentored by the great Sam Cooke, and Bobby also worked as Sam’s lead guitarist. Like Cooke, the Womack brothers originally started as singing gospel music but then crossed over to R&B. It may have been a difficult personal decision to move from God’s harmonies to “the Devil’s music,” but rock ‘n roll benefited greatly from the spirit and style of gospel. Some friction ensued when Sam Cooke convinced the group to make Bobby the lead singer, replacing his brother Curtis. Here are the five Womack brothers in the early 60s.
.After a promising start with the song Looking for a Love, a pop re-tooling of one of the group’s gospel numbers, Bobby and his sister-in-law Shirley Womack wrote It’s All Over Now in early 1964. Their version (by The Valentinos featuring Bobby Womack, produced by Sam Cooke) became a minor hit, just denting the Billboard Top 100.
The song describes a man’s changing relationship with his no-good woman; although he previously endured her abusive ways, he announces that he no longer loves her:
Well, she used to run around with every man in town
She spent all my money, playing her high class game
She put me out, it was a pity how I cried
Tables turn and now her turn to cry
Because I used to love her, but it’s all over now
So here is The Valentinos version of It’s All Over Now.
Charles Aaron of Rolling Stone describes the song as “A rawboned, rattle-trap country-rocker far from the Womacks’ gospel-family beginnings.” I think that phrase pretty much nails it! But what a great pop tune, and a version that I dare say many of you have never heard before. The tempo is relatively slow but is guaranteed to get your toes tapping. Bobby Womack’s raspy vocals, basically a hybrid between R&B and country, fit perfectly with his acoustic guitar licks and the funky bass and snappy drumming that propel the song forward.
The Rolling Stones and It’s All Over Now:
Although you may be listening to The Valentinos’ version for the first time, you have almost certainly heard It’s All Over Now because in July 1964 it was picked up by an up-and-coming British Invasion quintet, The Rolling Stones. The Stones first formed in the early 60s when Brian Jones and pianist Ian Stewart joined forces with singer Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards. They began their career as leaders of a British blues revival, covering American blues standards by artists such as Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. After a short time they added bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts.
The group deliberately (and accurately) portrayed themselves as “bad boys,” dangerous rebels with a misogynistic streak, in contradistinction to the lovable Beatles. The Stones have been prolific, long-lived and exceptionally creative. Original member Ian Stewart was jettisoned in 1963, and Brian Jones was forced out in 1969 and died shortly afterwards; however, the remaining four Stones continued on until Wyman left the group in 1993, and Jagger, Richards and Watts still play with The Stones today.
The Stones initially heard The Valentinos’ original during their first (and relatively disastrous) North American tour in 1964, when superstar DJ Murray the K played it for them. Thrilled by the song and its possibilities, they immediately checked in to Chess Studios in Chicago and nine days later recorded their cover. Released as a single in the UK, it shot up to #1 on the UK pop charts.
At the beginning of their career, The Stones were not writing original songs. They concentrated on covers of blues and R&B tunes. This changed shortly after their pals John Lennon and Paul McCartney visited the Rolling Stones in their studio in September 1963. Within less than an hour, Paul and John finished writing the song I Wanna Be Your Man, which they gave to the Stones (both the Stones and Beatles subsequently recorded versions of this song). After watching John and Paul at work, Mick and Keith told themselves “Golly, writing a pop song seems pretty straightforward,” or words to that effect. Jagger and Richards soon began writing their own songs, and the rest is history.
The Stones’ version of It’s All Over Now is much more an up-tempo hard-rock song, featuring memorable guitar licks from both Keith Richards and Brian Jones, a thumping bass line from Bill Wyman, and Mick’s terrific rock ‘n roll vocals. The song became a Stones’ favorite in concerts, and you might still hear it today if you catch the “World’s Greatest Rock ‘n Roll Band.”
The live performance of The Stones that we’ll see below was filmed at the T.A.M.I Show. T.A.M.I. (an acronym for “Teen Age Music International”) was a concert that took place at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on October 28 and 29, 1964. The producers attracted their audience in the simplest way imaginable — they distributed free tickets to local high school kids. They assembled a dynamite group of headliners, including Chuck Berry, The Beach Boys (in one of Brian Wilson’s last live performances with the group), Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, and The Supremes.
Unfortunately for The Stones, their performance immediately followed James Brown and The Famous Flames. After watching Brown’s electrifying dance moves and his explosive stage performance, Keith Richards was said to have remarked that following Brown’s group was the biggest mistake of their career. The Stones seem to have recovered from the shock as they continue to perform 50 years later! So here are The Stones singing It’s All Over Now at the T.A.M.I Show.
This is wonderful live footage of early Stones and as a bonus it includes some exceptionally hip dance moves from Mick Jagger, still one of the coolest cats on the planet. However, it is nearly impossible to hear them over the screaming teenagers so here is a studio cut of the song.
You can see why The Stones were so taken with this tune. They convert The Valentinos’ gospel-country hybrid into a high-energy rock classic. The song begins with Brian Jones’ electric 12-string guitar emerging from an echo chamber. Mick is in great voice here, and Keith Richards has an edgy guitar solo that owes much to Chuck Berry’s classic chord progressions.
It’s All Over Now fits perfectly into the ‘bad boy’ image projected by the Rolling Stones. No mushy teen love songs like I Wanna Hold Your Hand for these guys! No, the Stones tended towards sentiments that ranged from tough to downright misogynistic — one is reminded of songs like Under My Thumb or Mother’s Little Helper. So the theme of this song — a man announces that he will no longer be taken advantage of by an undeserving woman — was right in the comfort zone for the Rolling Stones.
It’s great to see the Stones on the T.A.M.I. Show, if only to see the youthful, boyish Mick and Keith. In recent photos they look rather weather-beaten, as in this photo of Keith on tour in Adelaide, Australia in 2014.
I am conflicted about Mick and Keith’s present-day appearance. They continue to tour regularly, which has to take a lot out of them. The touring, combined with their well-publicized long-term drug use, must be incredibly tough on the body. In a Top Ten List of slogans for an earlier Stones tour, David Letterman once suggested, “The Rolling Stones Live – plus Keith Richards”.
On the other hand, it is pretty amazing that Mick, Keith and Charlie have stayed together for over 50 years and are still on the road; whenever The Stones tour, they are always at or near the top of the year’s best-grossing acts. So clearly this is something they still enjoy and we should be thankful that they are still willing and able to continue going on the road.
More About Bobby Womack:
We’ll finish this post with more about singer and songwriter Bobby Womack, who passed away in June of 2014. Understandably, Bobby was pissed that the potential for a first major hit for The Valentinos had been snatched away by a group of British Invasion upstarts. According to Wikipedia, Bobby:
said in an interview that he had told his manager he did not want the Rolling Stones to record their version of the song, and that he had told Mick Jagger to get his own song. His manager convinced him to let the Rolling Stones record the song. Six months later on receiving the royalty check for the song he told his manager that Mick Jagger could have any song he wanted.
Above is a photo of Bobby Womack at the Hague Jazz Festival in 2011. Over the years Womack’s life had more than its share of ups and downs. A first major career blow occurred when his mentor Sam Cooke was shot and killed in a Los Angeles motel in December 1964. In the aftermath the Womack brothers disbanded and their record company folded. Controversy dogged him when Bobby married Sam Cooke’s widow Barbara Campbell just three months after Sam’s death.
It didn’t help that Barbara later divorced Bobby after she discovered him in an affair with her daughter Linda (Barbara fired a shot at Bobby upon catching the two of them in bed). Although Bobby remained in demand as a session musician and songwriter and produced a couple of seminal albums in the 70s, his solo career often languished. He would occasionally release a mid-range hit, but then continue for a long fallow period before charting another song. His well-publicized problems with drugs may have contributed to this – after dealing with a cocaine addiction for two decades, Womack went into rehab in the late 1980s. I haven’t seen a cause of death listed, but Womack reportedly had suffered from diabetes, prostate cancer, heart disease, colon cancer, pneumonia and Alzheimer’s.
Geez – talk about reasons for singing the blues! What a tough life, but what a talented, versatile musician. Although he never achieved lasting fame as a solo artist, Bobby Womack was in great demand as a songwriter and session guitarist. He played guitar and wrote songs for artists such as Sam Cooke, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Sly Stone and Janis Joplin, and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.