- Category : Entertain-Music-Vocalist-Pop,-Rock,-etc.
- Type : GP
- Profile : 6/2 - Role Model / Hermit
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Distraction 2
American performer with incredible singing talent, whose mixture of pop and gospel laid the foundations for the rise of modern soul music. He had 29 Top Forty hits before he was tragically killed.
One of eight sons of a Baptist minister, Reverend Charles Cook, and raised in Chicago, Sam was a featured singer in his church choir as a child. He teamed with three of his siblings in a group called Soul Children. As a teenager, he became a member of the gospel group the Highway QCs, who performed nationally. He joined the Soul Stirrers on 12/01/1950, touring and recording successfully for almost six years.
In 1956 he made his transition to secular pop with the "Lovable" single recorded under the alias of Dale Cooke in an attempt to avoid alienating his gospel fans. However, that didn’t go over well with the owner of the Soul Stirrers’ label and Cooke was released from his contract. On 6/01/1957 his contract was assigned to Keen Records. He resurfaced with his own song, "You Send Me," which sold two million copies, became the No. 1 song in the country on 12/02/1957 and made him a star. A series of hits followed.
By the early 1960s, Cooke was more involved in the music business with his own independent label, SAR, his own publishing imprint, Kags Music, and his own management firm. He went on to sign with RCA on 1/01/1960 where he took on a grittier, soulful feel. His reworking of "Chain Gang" peaked at No. 2 on both the pop and R&B charts on 10/10/1960. He flourished at RCA and reeled off a string of hits, including the superb blues album "Night Beat" in 1963. His fan base grew in both pop and R&B markets, and he emerged as a crossover superstar.
Then at the peak of his career, Sam Cooke was tragically killed on 12/11/1964. Though details of the circumstances remain hazy; according to reports he was shot three times by the female manager of a Los Angeles motel who claimed she acted in self-defense. Cooke allegedly raped a 22-year-old woman and then turned to the manager. The death was ruled a justifiable homicide. However, it was rumored that many of the crucial details of the case were buried in deference to Cooke’s second wife and two children who wished no further publicity or scrutiny.
Even after his scandalous death, Cooke remained a presence with the single "Shake" issued on 1/30/1965 and reaching the Top Ten. His true epitaph, "A Change Is Gonna Come," was another posthumous hit. Disciples including Otis Redding and Al Green carried on his legacy. "Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963" was finally released in 1985, 22 years after it was recorded. On 1/23/1986 he was named a charter inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.