b. Samuel Cook, a.k.a. Dale Cooke, 22nd January 1931, Clarksdale, Mississippi, U.S.A.
d. 11th December 1964, the Hacienda Motel, 9137 South Figueroa, 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, Reverend Charles and Annie Mae Cook.
Sam's family relocated to Chicago in 1933, living in a section of South-Chicago called Bronzeville.
Sam first performed publicly with his brother and two sisters in their Baptist quartet, the Singing Children (who featured Sam, Charles Cook, Jr., Mary Cook and Hattie Cook).
As a teenager he joined the Highway QCs (members featuring Sam, Credell Copeland, Lee Richards, Marvin Jones, Charles Richards and Gus Trentwell), before replacing Rebert 'R.H' Harris in the Soul Stirrers.
Between 1951 and 1956, Sam sang lead with this gospel group.
i'll come running back to you b/w forever 1957 / that's all i need to know b/w i don't want to cry - 1958
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'.
sam cooke - 1957 / encore - 1958 / tribute to the lady - 1959 / hit kit - 1960
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 Cooke' 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.
i thank god - 1960 / the wonderful world of sam cooke - 1960 / cooke's tour - 1960 / hits of the 50's - 1960
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.
my kind of blues - 1961 / swing low - 1961 / mr. soul - 1963 / night beat - 1963
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.
3 great guys - 1963 / ain't that good news - 1964 / sam cooke at the copa - 1964 / shake - 1965
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 the Hacienda Motel at 9137 South Figueroa, Los Angeles
Hacienda Motel, 9137 South Figueroa, Los Angeles, California
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, Bertha Franklin, 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:
Forest Lawn Memorial Park
Los Angeles County
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 Jewish businessman for a mere $103,000. This catalogue currently generates $3-5 million per year.
thanks to Rahi High for his input with these related issues
Sam Cooke & The Bumps Blackwell Orchestra (Keen Records 1957)
Sam Cooke Encore (Keen Records 1959)
Tribute To The Lady (Keen Records 1959)
Hit Kit (Keen Records 1960)
I Thank God (Keen Records 1960)
Wonderful World Of Sam Cooke (Keen Records 1960)
Cooke's Tour (RCA Records 1960)
Hits Of The 50s (RCA Records 1960)
Swing Low (RCA Records 1961)
My Kind Of Blues (RCA Records 1961)
Twisting The Night Away (RCA Records 1962)
Mr. Soul (RCA Records 1963)
Night Beat (RCA Records 1963)
Paul Anka, Sam Cooke, Neil Sedaka - Three Great Guys (RCA Records 1963)
Ain't That Good News (RCA Records 1964)
Sam Cooke At The Copa (RCA Records 1964)
Shake (RCA Records 1965)
Try A Little Love (RCA Records 1965)
Everybody Likes To Cha Cha (Famous Records 1969)
Sam Cooke Sings Billie Holiday (RCA Records 1976)
Sam Cooke Live At The Harlem Square 1963 (RCA Records 1985)