b. Sam Cook, 22nd January 1931, Clarksdale, Mississippi, U.S.A.
d. 11th December 1964, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Sam Cooke died way before his time. He was one of eight children by a Baptist minister and his wife. Sam first performed publicly with his brother and two sisters in their Baptist quartet, the Soul Children. As a teenager he joined the Highway QCs, before replacing Rebert 'R.H' Harris in the Soul Stirrers. Between 1951 and 1956, Sam sang lead with this gospel group. During that decade the Cook family moved to Chicago's South Side, where the Reverend Charles Cook quickly established himself as a major figure in the religious community. He recorded 'Touch The Hem Of His Garment' and 'Nearer To Thee'. The Soul Stirrers recorded for the Specialty label, where producer, 'Bumps' Blackwell, was to provide Sam with pop material. 'Loveable' / 'Forever' was issued as a single, under the pseudonym 'Dale Cook' in order to avoid offending the gospel audience.
Initially content, the label's owner, Art Rupe, then objected to the choir on a follow-up recording, 'You Send Me', and offered Sam a release from his contract in return for outstanding royalties. The song was then passed to the Keen label, where it sold in excess of two million copies. Further hits, including 'Only Sixteen' and 'Wonderful World', followed. The latter was used extensively in a television jeans commercial and in 1986 the re-issue reached number 2 in the U.K. charts.
Sam left the label for RCA Records where 'Chain Gang' (in 1960), 'Cupid' (in 1961), 'Twistin' The Night Away' (in 1962), 'Bring It On Home To Me' and 'Little Red Rooster' all followed. He also founded the Sar and Derby labels on which the Simms Twins' 'Soothe Me' and the Valentinos' 'It's All Over Now' were issued. Sam's own career continued with '(Ain't That) Good News' and 'Good Times'. The drowning death of his infant son in mid 1963 had made it impossible for Sam
to work in the studio until the end of that year.
On 11th December 1964, following an altercation with a girl he had picked up, the singer was fatally shot by the manageress of a Los Angeles motel. Sam had dinner with a famous artist on the 11th December 1964, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. He and a friend picked up a couple of models and went to a hotel. After arranging rooms, Sam became aggressive with his female friend and frightened her. When he went to the bathroom, she stole his trousers and left the hotel. Sam went into a rage, and, after being unable to find his companion, he started banging on the office door demanding to know where the woman had gone. When inside he attacked the female manager, during the struggle she was able to reach behind her and pull a gun from the desk drawer. In fear for her life, she shot him repeatedly. The female escort's name was Eliza, a euroasian model. The motel manager was not prosecuted, as it was deemed to be self defence. 'A Change Is Gonna Come', went on to become a Soul classic, and was utilised by the Sixties America's Civil Rights movement.
Sam was buried at:
Burial: Forest Lawn Memorial Park Glendale Los Angeles County California, U.S.A. Plot: Garden of Honor
There are some alleged matters which some believe bring into question Sam's final days, along with the jury trial. These comprise of:
After a brief trial, the jury deliberated for fifteen minutes and came back with a verdict of justifiable homicide. Bertha Franklin and Lisa Boyer were free. The Cooke family hired an private investigator who uncovered the following facts:
Cooke had dated Lisa Boyer three weeks prior to his murder despite the fact that numerous people warned him about her colorful past which included prostitution. If Cooke was dating her, why would he try to rape her?
Singer Etta James revealed in her book 'Rage To Survive,' that Cooke was so badly beaten that his head was nearly decapitated from his shoulders, his hands were broken and crushed, his nose was smashed and he had a two inch bump on his head. These injuries were never explained and a woman could not inflict these type of injuries.
Bertha Franklin had a .32 registered in her name, yet she killed Cooke with a .22, she would move to Michigan and die eighteen months later.
Lisa Boyer would be arrested for prostitution one month after Cookes death and in 1979 she would be found guilty of second degree murder in the shooting death of her boyfriend.
Other related matters:
Singer Otis Redding would die three years later on the exact day that Sam Cooke was killed.
Cooke's widow married Bobby Womack three months after his death. They have since divorced.
Barbara sold the Sam Cooke publishing catalogue to a businessman for a mere $103,000. This catalogue currently generates $3-5 million per year.
- In The Beginning (1955) / 1 / 2 /
- Sam Cooke (Keen 1958)
- Encore (Keen 1958)
- Tribute To The Lady (Keen 1959)
- Hit Kit (Keen 1959)
- I Thank God (Keen 1960)
- Wonderful World Of Sam Cooke (Keen 1960)
- Cooke's Tour (RCA 1960)
- Swing Low (1961)
- My Kind Of Blues (RCA 1961)
- Twisting The Night Away (RCA 1962) at Funk My Soul
- Mr. Soul (RCA 1963) / alternate / alternate
- Night Beat (RCA 1963) / alternate / FLAC
- Ain't That Good News (RCA 1964) / alternate
- Sam Cooke At The Copa (RCA 1964) from Nikos
- The Wonderful World of Sam Cooke (1965)
- Shake (RCA 1965)
- Try A Little Love (RCA 1965)
- So Wonderful (1969)
- The One and Only (1969)
- Sam Cooke (1970)
- The 2 Sides of Sam Cooke (1970)
- The Unforgettable Sam Cooke (1973)
- Sam Cooke Sings Billie Holiday (RCA 1976)
- Sam Cooke Live At The Harlem Square 1963 (RCA 1985)
- 1951 - 1964 - Portrait Of A Legend / alternate
- 1960 - Hits of fifties
- 1962 - The Best Of Sam Cooke
- The Complete Specialty Recordings Of Sam Cooke With The Soul Stirrers : ONE TWO THREE
- 1994 - All Hits
- 2000 - The Man Who Invented Soul (1957-63) Box Set 4CD
- The Man and his Music
- 2008 - You Send Me (3CDs) / info