Soul legend Bobby Womack refused to retire last year (14) when his closest friends begged him to stop touring and enjoy life.

The singer/songwriter passed away on Friday (27Jun14), aged 70, a year after revealing he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and pals like Candi Staton now reveal the Across 110th Street hitmaker had been ill for years.

A life of drug issues, personal dramas and a cancer battle had taken its toll on Womack, and Staton recalls her last meeting with her old friend in January, 2013.

She tells the Los Angeles Times, "He was in a coma for a while, and when he came out of his coma, I think I was one of the first people he called, and he told me what was going on in his life. I said, 'Oh Bobby, I'm praying for you. Are you Ok?' He said, 'They thought I wasn't going to make it through, Candi'."

"I saw him for the last time last year. I think it was in January when I went to his show. He and Millie Jackson and I were in the dressing room together. He was sick then, just so sick. I said, 'Bobby, how long are you going to be out on this road sick like this?'

"He said, 'I'm going to be out here until I can't go no more'. I said, 'Ok, Bobby, but you know you've written enough songs and made enough money that if you wanted to, you could go home and lay down and retire'. He said, 'Yeah, go home, lay down, retire and die!'"

In fact, Womack was planning a headlining slot at the Womad festival in England at the time of his death. A tribute is being planned for the event at the end of July (14).