The singer-songwriter was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease two years ago and had overcome addiction and health problems to revive his music career in recent years.
Womack, who died on Friday, had also suffered from prostate and colon cancer, diabetes, heart trouble and pneumonia.
His music influenced artists ranging from the Rolling Stones to Damon Albarn in a career spanning seven decades.
Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood was one of the first to pay his respects. He tweeted: “I’m so sad to hear about my friend Bobby Womack – the man who could make you cry when he sang has brought tears to my eyes with his passing.”
He added: “My heart goes out to his family & friends and everyone who loved his music. Bobby you will be greatly missed xx”
Womack penned It’s all Over Now, which became the first number one hit for the Stones.
Gospel singer Candi Staton knew Womack since they were children and toured with him.
“He had a style that nobody else could ever capture,” she said in a statement. “I loved him and I will miss him so, so very much.”
The star caught the attention of the Stones in the 1960s and influenced many early rockers before fading from pop music for more than a decade.
Damon Albarn was responsible for Womack’s return after a long break by inviting him to record a track for a Gorillaz album. The Blur singer and XL Recordings president Richard Russell then helped him re-launch his career in 2012 with the acclaimed album The Bravest Man in the Universe.
Albarn tweeted: “I will see my brother in church.”
The tribute from XL Recordings said: “Long live Bobby Womack.”
The performer took to the stage recently at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Tennessee and had seemed in good health. He was due to play at the Womad music festival in Wiltshire next month and had been scheduled to appear at various events.
Womad founder Peter Gabriel 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 Charlton Park.
“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.”
Womack was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009, long after he had lost his fortune and career to addiction. In an interview in 2012 he spoke of kicking his substance abuse problems and the friends he lost to drugs.
“I think the biggest move for me was to get away from the drug scene,” he said. “It wasn’t easy. It was hard because everybody I knew did drugs . . . they didn’t know when to turn it off. So for me looking at Wilson Pickett, close friends of mine, Sly Stone, Jim Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and I can go on and on and on, and I say all of them died because of drugs.”
The Ohio-born artist began singing gospel music at a young age and performed with his brothers in the 1950s. Under the influence of R&B legend Sam Cooke, he moved into secular music. He was a prolific songwriter, composing songs across the rock and soul genres many performers recorded. As well as the Rolling Stones hit in 1964, there was Trust Me for Janis Joplin – released after she died.
His solo singing career produced chart-toppers including That’s The Way I Feel About ‘Cha and Woman’s Gotta Have It. But his most popular recording was possibly Across 110th Street, his original score for the cult 1972 blaxploitation movie of the same name. It was later reprised in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown.