Sam Cooke

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Sam Cooke

Message  Marvin Straight le Dim 16 Sep - 17:45

Sam Cooke (January 22, 1931 – December 11, 1964) was a popular and influential American gospel, R&B, soul, pop singer, songwriter, and entrepreneur. Musicians and critics today recognize him as one of the founders of soul music, and as one of the most important singers in soul music history.[1] He has been called "the king of soul" by many, and while some may dispute this title, Sam Cooke's legacy is an extensive one and his impact on soul music is undeniable. He had 29 Top 40 hits in the U.S. between 1957 and 1965. He is therefore seen by many as "the creator" of the genre. Major hits like "You Send Me", "Chain Gang", "Wonderful World" and "Bring It on Home to Me" are among 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 Civil Rights Movement, using his musical ability to bridge gaps between black and white audiences.

Sam Cook was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He added an "e" onto the end of his name because he thought it added a touch of class. He was one of seven children of Annie Mae and the Reverend Charles Cook, a Baptist minister. The family moved to Chicago in 1933.

Cooke began his musical career as a member of a quartet with his siblings, The Singing Children, and, as a teenager, he was a member of the Highway QCs, a gospel group. In 1950, at the age of 19, he joined The Soul Stirrers and achieved significant success and fame within the gospel community.

His first pop single, "Lovable" (1956), was released under the alias of "Dale Cooke" in order to not alienate his fan base; there was a considerable taboo against gospel singers performing secular music. However, the alias failed to hide Cooke's unique and distinctive vocals. No one was fooled. 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(Greene, 2006).

In 1957, Cooke signed with Keen Records. His first release was "You Send Me", which spent six weeks at #1 on the Billboard R&B chart. The song also had massive mainstream success, spending three weeks at #1 on the Billboard pop chart. In addition to his success in writing his own songs and achieving mainstream fame — a truly remarkable accomplishment for an R&B singer at that time — Cooke continued to astonish the music business in the 1960s with the founding of his own label, SAR Records (Greene, 2006), which 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. This 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 29 top 40 hits on the pop charts, and more on the R&B charts. In spite of this, he released a critically acclaimed blues-inflected LP in 1963, Night Beat. He was known for having written many of the most popular songs of all time in the genre, and is often unaccredited for many of them by the general public[citation needed].

Cooke died at the age of 33 under mysterious circumstances on December 11, 1964 in Los Angeles, California. Though the details of the case are still in dispute, the official story was that he was shot to death by Bertha Franklin, manager of the Hacienda Motel in South Los Angeles, who claimed that he had threatened her, and that she killed him in self-defense. The verdict was justifiable homicide, though many believe that crucial details did not come out in court, or were buried afterward. Cooke was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, Glendale, California.

Some posthumous releases followed, many of which became hits, including "A Change Is Gonna Come", an early protest song which is generally regarded as his greatest composition. After Cooke's death, his widow, Barbara, married Bobby Womack. Cooke's daughter, Linda, later married Bobby's brother, Cecil. Cooke was inducted as a charter member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986(Greene, 2006).

The details of the case involving Sam Cooke's death are still in dispute. The official police record[2] states that Cooke was shot to death by Bertha Franklin, the 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 an overcoat (and nothing beneath it) demanding to know the whereabouts of a woman who had accompanied him to the motel. 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. According to Franklin, Cooke exclaimed, "Lady, you shot me," before finally falling, mortally wounded.

According to Franklin and to the motel's owner, Evelyn Carr, they had been on the phone 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 did. Boyer had called the police from a phone booth near the motel, telling them she had just escaped from 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 that 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, stashed Cooke's clothing away and went to the phone 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. Due to inconsistencies between her version of events and details reported by other witnesses, as well as other circumstantial evidence (e.g. cash Cooke was reportedly carrying that was never recovered, and the fact that Boyer was soon after arrested for prostitution), many people feel it is more likely that Boyer went willingly to the motel with Cooke, and then slipped out of the room with Cooke's clothing in order to rob him, rather than in order to escape an attempted rape.

Ultimately though, such questions were beyond the scope of the inquest, whose purpose was simply to establish the circumstances of Franklin's role in the shooting, not to determine exactly what had happened between Cooke and Boyer preceding that. Boyer's leaving the motel room with almost all of Cooke's clothing in tow, regardless of exactly why she did so, combined with the fact that tests showed Cooke was inebriated at the time, seemed to provide a plausible explanation for Cooke's bizarre behavior and state of dress, as reported by Franklin and Carr. This explanation together with the fact that Carr, from what she said she had overheard, corroborated Franklin's version of events, was enough to convince the coroner's jury to accept Franklin's explanation that it was a case of justifiable homicide. And with that verdict, authorities officially closed the case on Cooke's death.

However, some of Cooke's family and supporters have rejected not only Boyer's version of events, but also Franklin's and Carr's. They believe that there was a conspiracy from the start to murder Cooke, that this murder took place in some manner entirely different from the official account of Cooke's intrusion into Franklin's office/apartment, and that Franklin, Boyer and Carr were all lying to provide a cover story for this murder. None have been able to provide any evidence of this, however.

My brother was first class all the way. He would not check into a $3 a night motel; that wasn't his style.

— Agnes Cooke-Hoskins, sister of Sam Cooke, attending the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 2005 tribute to Cooke.
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 decapitated from his shoulders, his hands were broken and crushed and his nose was mangled.

Nevertheless, no solid, reviewable evidence supporting a conspiracy theory has been presented to date. However, in Our Uncle Sam: The Sam Cooke Story From His Family's Perspective,the biography written by Cooke's great-nephew, he discusses little-known facts, glaring inconsistencies, and an alternate scenario to the singer's death.

Cooke's influence has been immense: even people who have never heard one of his records have still heard his voice and phrasing if they have listened to Rod Stewart or Southside Johnny. Other rock artists with a notable Cooke heritage include The Animals, Simon and Garfunkel, Van Morrison, James Taylor, the Beatles (particularly John Lennon), John Mayer, Bruce Springsteen, Steve Marriott, Terry Reid, Steve Perry, and numerous others, while R&B and soul artists indebted to Cooke include Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, David Ruffin, Bobby Womack, Johnnie Taylor, Lou Rawls, Al Green, The Temptations, Philippe Wynne, Aretha Franklin, Mavis Staples, Ben E. King, and many more.

Cooke's A Change Is Gonna Come was memorably featured in Spike Lee's film, Malcolm X and was most recently redone by the group Solo.

On the West Wing (television) episode A Change Is Gonna Come, James Taylor performs Sam Cooke's song by the same name in tribute to Cooke.

Cat Stevens hadn't released a song that he didn't write until 1974 when he released his Greatest Hits album with a cover of Sam Cooke's Another Saturday Night. He also released it as a single which reached No.4 in the US.

Southern radio stations can be picked up at night in Jamaica, and Cooke's recordings were a major influence on the singing style of Bob Marley.

John Landis has used many of Cooke's recording for his films such as Animal House and American Werewolf in London.

Cooke was an influence on punk vocalist Mia Zapata of The Gits, who honored him with a cover of "A Change Is Gonna Come" on their album Enter: The Conquering Chicken.

Shortly following his passing, Motown Records released We Remember Sam Cooke, a collection of Cooke covers recorded by The Supremes.

In 1966 the now cult 60's British pop show Ready Steady Goes Live, the live version of Ready, Steady, Go devoted a whole programe to a live performance of Soul Singer Otis Redding, who regularly covered many of Sam's songs. One of the Higlights was a rousing version of Shake on which Otis was joined by British Soul Legends Eric Burdon, lead singer of The Animals, and chart topper Chris Farlowe. The programme is acclaimed by many as the best episode of the whole series, and VHS episodes change hands for as much as £25.00.

After being featured prominently in the 1985 film Witness (1985 movie) (starring Harrison Ford), the song "Wonderful World" gained further exposure. Wonderful World was featured as one of two concurrently running a Levi's Jeans Commercials in 1985 and became a hit in the United Kingdom because of this, reaching #2 in re-release. Other notable movies that featured his music Animal House (Wonderful World and Twistin' The Night Away) and Cadence (Chain Gang).

In 1999, Cooke was honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked him #16 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

Erik Greene's Our Uncle Sam: The Sam Cooke Story From His Family's Perspective, is an introspective look into Cooke's life, music, and controversial death. Voted "Best of 2006" by, "Our Uncle Sam" compiles the intimate memories and never-before-seen photographs of Soul music's first and foremost pioneer.

In 2007 Irish rock-group Jetplane Landing released the album Backlash Cop featuring the song 'Sam Cooke'.


 1957 Sam Cooke #16 *
 1960 Cooke's Tour - *
 1960 Hits of the 50's - *
 1961 Sam Cooke (aka Swing Low) - *
 1961 My Kind of Blues - *
 1962 Twistin' the Night Away #74 *
 1962 The Best of Sam Cooke #22 *
 1963 Mr. Soul #94 *
 1963 Night Beat #62 *
 1964 Ain't That Good News #34 *
 1964 Sam Cooke at the Copa #29 #1
 1965 Shake #44 #1
 1965 Try a Little Love #120 -
 1965 The Best of Sam Cooke, Volume II
Marvin Straight
Marvin Straight

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Date d'inscription : 14/09/2007

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