The stunned organisers of Wiltshire’s largest music festival are seeking a possible replacement to close their four-day annual event following the death of legendary soul singer Bobby Womack.
Womack, who had worked with and written songs for some of the greatest musicians of the 20th Century, died at 70 last Friday.
He had been booked to top the bill on the fourth and final night of the internationally-renowned WOMAD festival on Sunday, July 27, at Charlton Park near Malmesbury.
Now the organisers, who were thrilled earlier this year after finally clinching Womack’s signature for the event, are looking at various options to headline the last night.
Yesterday WOMAD spokesman Giles Cooper said: “We were all really shocked and saddened at the news of Bobby Womack’s death. Everyone at WOMAD is now working very hard to put something together.
“It could be a replacement or some form of tribute to Bobby Womack. We don’t quite know yet. We are in the middle of the festival season and touring artists are tied up with other events.
“It may be a case of WOMAD seeking a favour from another festival. But WOMAD has a lot of friends. We will certainly let everyone know what is happening as soon as we have something confirmed.”
Last year WOMAD, the planet’s largest world music festival, had to find a short notice replacement for another legend, reggae singer Toots Hibbert, who had to pull out after being hit on the head with a bottle at a gig in America. They managed to replace him with a performer of equal status, zany reggae genius Lee Perry. Meanwhile WOMAD’s founder, singer Peter Gabriel paid a personal tribute to Womack, whose best known song, It’s All Over Now, became the Rolling Stones first UK Number One, and who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.
He said: “I’m very sad to learn of Bobby Womack's death. We were very proud to be having him closing this year’s WOMAD. His songs and his voice have been so much a part of the fabric of so many musical lives.
“In recent years, it was great to see Richard Russell and Damon Albarn bringing his music back into our attention. He was a soul legend. Our thoughts and condolences are with his family and friends at this time.”
The cause of Womack’s death has not been announced, but he has suffered from cancer and Alzheimer’s disease and battled with drug addiction Some 30,000 fans are expected to attend the World Of Music Art and Dance festival in the grounds of the Earl of Suffolk’s hereditary home for four days of exotic food and music from July 24. Major acts include colossus of folk-rock Richard Thompson and acclaimed Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour.
- The WOMAD Festival takes place at Charlton Park, Malmesbury, SN16 9DG – about 30 minutes or so from Swindon – on July 24/27. Ticket prices and other information available on 0118-960-6060 or online at: www.womad.co.uk