Cecil Womack of R&B Family Dead at 65

David Corio/Redferns
Cecil Womack and Linda Cooke

Bobby Womack has confirmed the death of his brother and former collaborator, Cecil, who courted controversy over the years and scored an international hit, "Teardrops," in 1988 with the husband-wife duo Womack and Womack.

"I was terribly upset when I heard about my brother's passing, and I still am," Bobby Womack confirmed in a Facebook post. According to BBC News, Womack died on Feb. 1 at his home in Africa. He was 65.

Cecil Womack began his career alongside siblings Bobby, Harry, Friendly Jr. and Curtis in the Womack Brothers, later The Valentinos. Their early sixties hits include "Lookin' for a Love" (later a bigger solo hit for Bobby) and "It's All Over Now."

The brothers began to fracture upon the death of mentor Sam Cooke in late 1964. The tragedy spawned a series of controversies that caused rifts among the family: Three months after his death, Bobby married Cooke's widow; Cecil proposed to Cooke's 12-year-old daughter, Linda, who turned him down but years later married him and formed Womack and Womack. Bobby also had a brief affair with Linda, his step-daughter, when she was a teenager.

"We made music together for a long time, but we've had many differences over the years," Bobby wrote in his statement. "Thankfully we got a chance to reunite last year after a very long separation -- and little did I know that it would be the last time I would see him."

Womack continues, "I can only pass along what I have now learned, which is to not let anything -- money, success, etc, come between you and your family."

After a marriage to "My Guy" singer Mary Wells ended in divorce in 1976, Cecil reconnected with Linda Cooke and they married a year later, forming a musical partnership as well. As a songwriting duo they wrote songs for Teddy Pendergrass and The O'Jays and have had songs covered by Elton John, Joss Stone and The xx, among others.

They released four albums as Womack & Womack in the 1980s, including 1983 debut "Love Wars" and 1988's "Conscience," which included the hit "Teardrops."

For years, Cecil and Linda have lived with their children in Africa, where they changed their names to Zekuumba and Zeriiya Zekkariyas and recorded under the moniker The House of Zekkariyas.