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Sam Cooke

Cooke recording in the studio
Background information
Birth name Samuel Cook[1]
Also known as Dale Cooke
Born January 22, 1931(1931-01-22)
Clarksdale, Mississippi
Origin Chicago, Illinois
Died December 11, 1964 (aged 33)
Los Angeles, California
Genres R&B, soul, gospel, pop
Occupations Singer-songwriter, entrepreneur
Instruments Vocals, piano, guitar
Years active 1950–1964
Labels Specialty, Keen, RCA
Associated acts The Soul Stirrers
Bobby Womack
Johnnie Taylor

Samuel "Sam" Cook (January 22, 1931 – December 11, 1964) was an American gospel, R&B, soul, and pop singer, songwriter, and entrepreneur. He is considered to be one of the pioneers and founders of soul music. He is commonly known as The King of Soul for his unmatched vocal abilities and impact and influence on the modern world of music. His contribution in pioneering Soul music led to the rise of Aretha Franklin, Bobby Womack, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and popularizing the likes of Otis Redding and James Brown.[2][3][4]

Cooke had 29 top-40 hits in the U.S. between 1957 and 1964. Major hits like "You Send Me", "A Change Is Gonna Come", "Chain Gang", "Wonderful World", and "Bring It on Home to Me" are some of his most popular songs. Cooke was also among the first modern black performers and composers to attend to the business side of his musical career. He founded both a record label and a publishing company as an extension of his careers as a singer and composer. He also took an active part in the American Civil Rights Movement.[5]

On December 11, 1964, Cooke was shot to death by the manager of the Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles, California at the age of 33. At the time, the courts ruled that Cooke was drunk and distressed, and the manager killed Cooke in what was later ruled a justifiable homicide. Since that time, the circumstances of his death have been widely questioned.

Contents

Early life and career

Cooke was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He later added an "e" onto the end of his name, though the reason for this is disputed.[6] He was one of eight children of Annie Mae and the Reverend Charles Cook, a Baptist minister. The family moved to Chicago in 1933. Cooke attended Wendell Phillips Academy High School in Chicago, the same school that had been attended earlier by Nat "King" Cole.[7]

Cooke began his career singing gospel with his siblings in a group called The Singing Children. He first became known as lead singer with the Highway QC's as a teenager. In 1950, Cooke replaced gospel tenor R.H. Harris as lead singer of the landmark gospel group The Soul Stirrers. Under Cooke's leadership, the group signed with Specialty Records and recorded the hits "Peace in the Valley", "How Far Am I From Canaan?", "Jesus Paid the Debt" and "One More River".

Crossover pop success

His first pop single, "Lovable" (1956), was released under the alias "Dale Cooke" in order not to alienate his gospel fan base (he sang with the Soul Stirrers until 1957); there was a considerable stigma against gospel singers performing secular music. However, it fooled no one[8] - Cooke's unique and distinctive vocals were easily recognized. Art Rupe, head of Specialty Records, the label of the Soul Stirrers, gave his blessing for Cooke to record secular music under his real name, but he was unhappy about the type of music Cooke and producer Bumps Blackwell were making. Rupe expected Cooke's secular music to be similar to that of another Specialty Records artist, Little Richard. When Rupe walked in on a recording session and heard Cooke covering Gershwin, he was quite upset. After an argument between Rupe and Blackwell, Cooke and Blackwell left the label.

In 1957, Cooke appeared on ABC's The Guy Mitchell Show. That same year, he signed with Keen Records. His first release was "You Send Me", the B-side of his first Keen single (the A-side was a reworking of George Gershwin's "Summertime")[9] which spent six weeks at #1 on the Billboard R&B chart. The song also had mainstream success, spending three weeks at #1 on the Billboard pop chart.[10]

Sam Cooke in studio, 1963

In 1961, Cooke started his own record label, SAR Records, with J.W. Alexander and his manager, Roy Crain.[11] The label soon included The Simms Twins, The Valentinos, Bobby Womack, and Johnnie Taylor. Cooke then created a publishing imprint and management firm, then left Keen to sign with RCA Victor. One of his first RCA singles was the hit "Chain Gang". It reached #2 on the Billboard pop chart and was followed by more hits, including "Sad Mood", "Bring it on Home to Me" (with Lou Rawls on backing vocals), "Another Saturday Night" and "Twistin' the Night Away".

Like most R&B artists of his time, Cooke focused on singles; in all he had twenty-nine top-40 hits on the pop charts, and more on the R&B charts. In spite of this, he released a well received blues-inflected LP in 1963, Night Beat, and his most critically acclaimed studio album Ain't That Good News, which featured five singles, in 1964.

Death

Cooke died at the age of thirty-three on December 11, 1964, at the Hacienda Motel at 9137 South Figueroa Street in Los Angeles, California. Bertha Franklin, manager of the motel, told police that she shot and killed Cooke in self-defense because he had threatened her. Police found Cooke's body in Franklin's apartment-office, clad only in a sports jacket and shoes, but no shirt, pants or underwear.[12] The shooting was ultimately ruled a justifiable homicide.[8] His funeral was held in Chicago at A.R Leak Funeral Home, were thousands of fans had lined up for over 4 city blocks to view his body. Cooke was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.

Some posthumous releases followed, many of which became hits, including "A Change Is Gonna Come", an early protest song that is generally regarded as his greatest composition.[13] After Cooke's death, his widow, Barbara, married Bobby Womack. Cooke's daughter, Linda, later married Bobby's brother, Cecil.[11]

Controversy

The details of the case involving Cooke's death are still in dispute. The official police record[14] states that Cooke was shot dead by Bertha Franklin, manager of the Hacienda Motel, where Cooke had checked in earlier that evening. Franklin claimed that Cooke had broken into the manager's office-apartment in a rage, wearing nothing but a shoe and a sports coat demanding to know the whereabouts of a woman who had accompanied him to the hotel. Franklin said that the woman was not in the office and that she told Cooke this, but the enraged Cooke did not believe her and violently grabbed her, demanding again to know the woman's whereabouts. According to Franklin, she grappled with Cooke, the two of them fell to the floor, and she then got up and ran to retrieve her gun. She said that she then fired at Cooke in self-defense, because she feared for her life. Cooke was struck once in the torso, and according to Franklin, he exclaimed, "Lady, you shot me," before mounting a last charge at her. She said that she beat him over his head with a broomstick before he finally fell, mortally wounded by the gunshot.

According to Franklin and to the motel's owner, Evelyn Carr, they had been on the telephone together at the time of the incident. Thus, Carr claimed to have overheard Cooke's intrusion and the ensuing conflict and gunshots. Carr called the police to request that they go to the motel, informing them that she believed a shooting had occurred.

A coroner's inquest was convened to investigate the incident. The woman who had accompanied Cooke to the motel was identified as Elisa Boyer, who had also called the police that night shortly before Carr. Boyer had called the police from a telephone booth near the motel, telling them she had just escaped being kidnapped.

Boyer told the police that she had first met Cooke earlier that night and had spent the evening in his company. She claimed that after they left a local nightclub together, she had repeatedly requested that he take her home, but he instead took her against her will to the Hacienda Motel. She claimed that once in one of the motel's rooms, Cooke physically forced her onto the bed and that she was certain he was going to rape her. According to Boyer, when Cooke stepped into the bathroom for a moment, she quickly grabbed her clothes and ran from the room. She claimed that in her haste, she had also scooped up most of Cooke's clothing by mistake. She said that she ran first to the manager's office and knocked on the door seeking help. However, she said that the manager took too long in responding, so, fearing Cooke would soon be coming after her, she fled the motel altogether before the manager ever opened the door. She claimed she then put her own clothing back on, hid Cooke's clothing, and went to the telephone booth from which she called police.

Boyer's story is the only account of what happened between the two that night; however, her story has long been called into question. Inconsistencies between her version of events and details reported by other witnesses, as well as circumstantial evidence (e.g., cash that Cooke was reportedly carrying was never recovered, and Boyer was soon after arrested for prostitution),[15] invited speculation that Boyer may have gone willingly to the motel with Cooke, then slipped out of the room with Cooke's clothing in order to rob him, rather than to escape an attempted rape.[6][14]

Such questions were ultimately deemed beyond the scope of the inquest,[6] whose purpose was to establish the circumstances of Franklin's role in the shooting, not to determine exactly what had transpired between Cooke and Boyer preceding the event. Boyer's leaving the motel room with almost all of Cooke's clothing, regardless of exactly why she did so, combined with the fact that tests showed Cooke was inebriated at the time, provided what inquest jurors deemed a plausible explanation for Cooke's bizarre behavior and state of dress, as reported by Franklin and Carr. This explanation, in conjunction with the fact that Carr's testimony corroborated Franklin's version of events, and the fact that police officials testified that both Boyer and Franklin had passed lie detector tests,[6][16][17] was enough to convince the coroner's jury to accept Franklin's explanation, and return a verdict of justifiable homicide. With that verdict, authorities officially closed the case on Cooke's death.[6][18]

Some of Cooke's family and supporters, however, have rejected Boyer's version of events, as well as those given by Franklin and Carr. They believe that there was a conspiracy to murder Cooke and that the murder took place in some manner entirely different from the three official accounts.[19][20][21][22][23][24][6] In her autobiography, Rage to Survive, singer Etta James claimed that she viewed Cooke's body in the funeral home and that the injuries she observed were well beyond what could be explained by the official account of Franklin alone having fought with Cooke. James described Cooke as having been so badly beaten that his head was nearly separated from his shoulders, his hands were broken and crushed, and his nose mangled.[25]

No concrete evidence supporting a conspiracy theory has been presented to date.[22][23]

Legacy and cultural impact

The song "A Change Is Gonna Come" was played upon the death of Malcolm X, and was featured in Spike Lee's film Malcolm X. The song was also played at Malcolm's funeral.

Barack Obama's presidential victory speech paraphrased the song: "It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America."[26]

Rapper Tupac Shakur references Cooke in a line of the song "Thugz Mansion", and Nas references him in the song "We Major" with Kanye West. The Roots' song "Stay Cool" suggests, "I got the soul of a young Sam Cooke." The Irish rock-group Jetplane Landing have a song named "Sam Cooke". Canadian punk band The Riptides pay homage to Cooke in "Change Gonna Come."

He is once again mentioned by Nas on the song "Blunt Ashes". The rapper talks about the marriage between Bobby Womack and Sam Cooke's widow, suggesting Cooke’s discontent with the affair in the afterlife.

A fictional version of Cooke (portrayed by Paul Mooney) appeared briefly in the 1978 film, The Buddy Holly Story, leaving the stage at the Apollo Theater before Buddy and The Crickets went on. After being featured prominently in the 1985 film Witness,[27] the song "Wonderful World" gained further exposure. "Wonderful World" was featured in one of two concurrently running Levi's Jeans commercials in 1985 and became a hit in the United Kingdom because of this, reaching #2 in re-release. Two of Cooke's songs, "Cupid" and "Twistin' the Night Away" were also prominently featured in the 1987 movie, Innerspace. Other movies that featured his music are Animal House ("Wonderful World" and "Twistin' the Night Away"), American Werewolf in London, and Cadence ("Chain Gang").

Cooke's songs "Bring It on Home to Me" and "Change is Gonna Come" were both featured in the movie Ali. The opening scene of the movie consisted of a live reenactment of "Bring It on Home to Me".

Alternative rock band The Wallflowers song "Sleepwalker" off of their 2000 album (Breach) featured the lyric "Cupid don't draw back your bow/Sam Cooke didn't know what I know." The words are a reference to Cooke's song, Cupid.

John Cougar Mellencamp's song "Ain't Even Done With the Night" contains the line "You got your hands in my back pockets, and Sam Cooke's singin' on the radio."

Posthumous honors

Discography

Albums

Year Title Chart positions
US UK
1957 Sam Cooke 16
1962 The Best of Sam Cooke 22
1963 Night Beat
1964 Ain't That Good News 34
Sam Cooke at the Copa 29
1985 Sam Cooke at the Harlem Square Club (recorded 1963)
1986 The Man and His Music 8
2003 Portrait of a Legend: 1951-1964 30
2005 Portrait of a Legend: 1951-1964 (re-issue) 19

Singles

Year Title Chart positions
US R&B UK
1957 "You Send Me" 1 1 29
"Summertime, Pt. 1" 81 - -
"I'll Come Running Back to You" 18 1
"Forever" 60 - -
"(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons" 17 5 -
"Desire Me" 47 17 -
1958 "Lonely Island" 26 10 -
"You Were Made for Me" 39 7 -
"Win Your Love for Me" 22 4 -
"Love You Most of All" 26 12 -
1959 "Everybody Likes to Cha Cha" 31 2 -
"Only Sixteen" 28 13 23
"Summertime (Pt. 2)" - - -
"There, I've Said It Again" 81 25 -
1960 "No One (Can Ever Take Your Place)" 103 - -
"Teenage Sonata" 50 22 -
"Wonderful World" 12 2 27
"Chain Gang" 2 2 9
"Sad Mood" 29 23 -
1961 "That's It, I Quit, I'm Moving On" 31 25 -
"Cupid" 17 20 7
"Feel It" 56 - -
"It's All Right" 93 - -
1962 "Twistin' the Night Away" 9 1 6
"Having a Party" 17 4 -
"Bring It On Home To Me" 13 2 -
"Nothing Can Change This Love" 12 2 -
"Somebody Have Mercy" 70 3 -
1963 "Another Saturday Night" 10 1 23
"Frankie and Johnny" 14 - 30
1964 "A Change Is Gonna Come" 31 9 -
1965 "Shake" 7 4 -
"It's Got the Whole World Shakin'" 41 15 -
"When a Boy Falls in Love" 52 - -
"Ease My Troublin' Mind" 115 - -
"Sugar Dumpling" 32 18 -
1966 "Let's Go Steady Again" 97 - -
1986 "Wonderful World" (re-issue) - 18 2
"Another Saturday Night" (re-issue) - - 75

Further reading

  • Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke by Peter Guralnick (2005) ISBN 0-316-37794-5
  • Our Uncle Sam: The Sam Cooke Story from His Family's Perspective by Erik Greene (2005) ISBN 1-412-06498-8
  • You Send Me: The Life and Times of Sam Cooke by Daniel Wolff, S. R. Crain, Clifton White, and G. David Tenenbaum (1995) ISBN 0-688-12403-8

References

  1. ^ "Sam Cooke". Britannica online. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/136091/Sam-Cooke. Retrieved 2008-09-28. 
  2. ^ Appiah, Kwame Anthony; Gates, Henry Louis; Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. (2004). Africana: An A-to-Z Reference of Writers, Musicians, and Artists of the African American Experience. Running Press. pp. 146. ISBN 0-762-42042-1. 
  3. ^ DeCurtis, Anthony; Henke, James (1992). The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll: The Definitive History of the Most Important Artists and their Music. George-Warren, Holly. Random House. pp. 135. ISBN 0-679-73728-6. 
  4. ^ Nite, Norm N. (1992). Rock On Almanac: The First Four Decades of Rock 'n' Roll: A Chronolology. New York, New York: HarperPerennial. pp. 140–142. 
  5. ^ Guralnick, Peter (2005-09-22). "The Man Who Invented Soul". rollingstone.com. http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/7661211/the_man_who_invented_soul. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Guralnick, Peter (2005). Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke. Little, Brown and Company. p. 626–634, 642-647, 670. ISBN 0316377945. 
  7. ^ Guralnick, Peter (2005). Dream boogie: the triumph of Sam Cooke. Little, Brown and Company. Pg. 22.
  8. ^ a b Bronson, Fred (2003). The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits: The Inside Story Behind Every Number One Single on Billboard's Hot 100 from 1955 to the Present. Billboard Books. pp. 30. ISBN 0-823-07677-6. 
  9. ^ Guralnick, Peter (2005). Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke. Little, Brown and Company. pp. 167. ISBN 0-316-37794-5. 
  10. ^ Dean, Maury (2003). Rock 'N' Roll Gold Rush: A Singles Un-cyclopedia. Algora Publishing. pp. 176. ISBN 0-875-86207-1. 
  11. ^ a b Warner, Jay; Jones, Quincy (2006). On This Day in Black Music History. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 10. ISBN 0-634-09926-4. 
  12. ^ Krajick, David. "The Death of Sam Cooke", truTV.com Crime Library
  13. ^ "Sam Cooke's Swan Song of Protest". npr.org. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17267529. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  14. ^ a b Wolff, Daniel. You Send Me: The Life and Times of Sam Cooke, New York: William Morrow, 1995 ISBN 0-688-12403-8
  15. ^ Krajicek, David. "The Death of Sam Cooke". trutv.com. http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/notorious_murders/celebrity/sam_cooke/11.html. 
  16. ^ (1964, December 16). "Shooting of Sam Cooke Held 'Justifiable Homicide'", United Press International
  17. ^ Robinson, Louie. (1964, December 31). "Death Shocks Singer's Fans" Jet, p. 59-64
  18. ^ Robinson, Louie. "The Tragic Death of Sam Cooke", Ebony, February 1965
  19. ^ Milicia, Joe. (2005, December 6). "Sam Cooke's story told from 'the inside out'  — A thorough effort to give him his due" Associated Press
    "That he was killed after being scammed by a prostitute just didn’t make sense to many people. It’s an end that his sister, Agnes Cooke-Hoskins, still discounts. 'My brother was first class all the way. He would not check into a $3 a night motel; that wasn’t his style,' she said while attending a recent tribute to Cooke at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum."
  20. ^ Greene, Erik. (2006). Our Uncle Sam: The Sam Cooke Story from His Family's Perspective, Trafford Publishing. ISBN 1-412-20987-0
  21. ^ Burke, Solomon. Interview conducted by Gary James
    "I still think there was some kind of conspiracy ... I've always felt there was some sort of conspiracy there ... I listened to the reports and I listened to the story of what happened and I can imagine Sam going after his pants. I can imaging Sam going up to the counter and saying 'Hey, somebody just took my pants.' And he's standing there, seeing the woman with his pants. I can imagine him saying "Give me my pants." But I can't imagine him attacking her. He wasn't that type of person to attack somebody. That wasn't his bag. He was a lover, OK. He wasn't a fighter. He wasn't a boxer. You never heard of Sam Cooke beating up his women."
  22. ^ a b Guralnick, Peter. (2005, November 16). Interview conducted by Ed Gordon, National Public Radio
    "I would say within the community there is not a single person that believes that Sam Cooke died as is his said to have died: killed by a motel owner at a cheap motel in Los Angeles called the Hacienda which he had gone to with a prostitute named Elisa Boyer. I could have filled a hundred pages of the book with an appendix on all the theories about his death. Central tenet of every one of those theories is that this was a case of another proud black man brought down by the white establishment who simply didn't want to see him grow any bigger.

    I looked into this very carefully. I had access to the private investigators' report, which nobody had seen and which filled in a good many more details. And no evidence has ever been adduced to prove any of these theories."
  23. ^ a b Hildebrand, Lee. "Elvis biographer Peter Guralnick tackles another music legend: Sam Cooke", San Francisco Bay Guardian online
    "'In the course of the two or three hundred different interviews with different people that I did for the book, there are two or three hundred different conspiracy theories,' he explained. 'While they were all extremely interesting, and while every one of them reflected a basic truth about prejudice in America in 1964 and the truth of the prejudice that has continued into the present day, none of them came accompanied by any evidence beyond that metaphorical truth.'"
  24. ^ Drozdowski, Ted. (2002, Marc 14-21). Soul man, Sam Cooke's fulfilling late period
    "It’s hard to buy into conspiracy theories, though several swirl around this incident that paint Cooke as the victim of a plot by white supremacists to silence the country’s most popular self-empowered black man."
  25. ^ James, Etta; Ritz, David (2003). Rage To Survive: The Etta James Story. Da Capo Press. pp. 151. ISBN 0-306-81262-2. 
  26. ^ Barack Obama, US Election 2008 Victory Speech
  27. ^ Witness, 1985 film soundtrack
  28. ^ "Sam Cooke". rockhall.com. http://www.rockhall.com/inductee/sam-cooke. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  29. ^ "The Immortals: The First Fifty". Rolling Stone (Issue 946). Rolling Stone. April 15, 2004. http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/5939214/the_immortals_the_first_fifty. 
  30. ^ "100 Greatest Singers of All Time". Rolling Stone (Issue 1066). Rolling Stone. November 27, 2008. http://www.rollingstone.com/news/coverstory/24161972/page/4. 

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Sam Cooke (January 22, 1931December 11, 1964) was a popular and influential American gospel, R&B, soul, pop singer, songwriter and entrepreneur.

Sourced

  • The moon belongs to everyone
    The best things in life they're free
    Stars belong to everyone
    They cling there for you and for me
    • "The Best Things in Life Are Free," Sam Cooke at the Copa (1964)

About Sam Cooke

  • I always loved Sam Cooke, because he seemed very versatile. He sang gospel, soul, blues, pop music.
  • Sam Cooke is somebody other singers have to measure themselves against, and most of them go back to pumping gas.

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

Sam Cooke
Birth name Samuel Cook[1]
Also known as Dale Cooke
Born January 22, 1931(1931-01-22)
Clarksdale, Mississippi
Died December 11, 1964 (aged 33)
Los Angeles, California
Genres R&B, soul, gospel, pop
Occupations Singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals, piano, guitar
Years active 1950–1964
Labels Specialty, Keen, RCA
Associated acts The Soul Stirrers
Bobby Womack
Johnnie Taylor

Sam Cooke (January 22, 1931–December 11, 1964) was an American soul singer and song-writer. He was born Sam Cook but later changed the spelling of his name. He was very important in the beginning of soul music.[2][3][4] He had many hit songs in America. Some of his most famous songs were "You Send Me", "A Change Is Gonna Come", "Chain Gang", "Wonderful World", and "Bring It on Home to Me".

Cooke started his own record label and publishing company. He was an important part of the Civil Rights Movement, helping African-American people to get civil rights.[5]

Cooke died in 1964. He was shot and killed by a hotel manageress called Bertha Franklin. She told the police that she shot Cooke in self-defense.[6] He was buried in Glendale, California.

Other websites

References

  1. "Sam Cooke". Britannica online. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/136091/Sam-Cooke. Retrieved 2008-09-28. 
  2. Appiah, Kwame Anthony; Gates, Henry Louis; Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. (2004). Africana: An A-to-Z Reference of Writers, Musicians, and Artists of the African American Experience. Running Press. pp. 146. ISBN 0-762-42042-1. 
  3. DeCurtis, Anthony; Henke, James (1992). The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll: The Definitive History of the Most Important Artists and their Music. George-Warren, Holly. Random House. pp. 135. ISBN 0-679-73728-6. 
  4. Nite, Norm N. (1992). Rock On Almanac: The First Four Decades of Rock 'n' Roll: A Chronolology. New York, New York: HarperPerennial. pp. 140–142. 
  5. Guralnick, Peter (2005-09-22). "The Man Who Invented Soul". rollingstone.com. http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/7661211/the_man_who_invented_soul. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  6. Krajick, David. "The Death of Sam Cooke", truTV.com Crime Library







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