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Famous Like Me > Singer > C > Sam Cooke

Profile of Sam Cooke on Famous Like Me

Name: Sam Cooke  
Also Know As: Samuel Cook
Date of Birth: 11th December 1931
Place of Birth: Clarksdale, Mississippi
Profession: Singer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia
Sam Cooke

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


Born Samuel Cook in Clarksdale, Mississippi, he was one of eight children of Rev. Charles and Mrs. Annie Mae Cook. The family moved to Chicago in 1933.

Cooke began his musical career as a member of a quartet with his siblings, the Soul Children, followed by a turn as a teenager as 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. The alias failed to hide Cooke's unique and distinctive vocals, however, and fans openly expressed their disapproval. Specialty Records, the label of the Soul Stirrers, complained to Bumps Blackwell, Cooke's pop producer, resulting in the loss of Cooke's contract. He then signed with Keen Records in 1957, releasing a song he composed with his brother, L.C., "You Send Me", which spent six weeks at #1 on the Billboard R&B chart but which also had massive mainstream success, spending three weeks at #1 on the Billboard pop chart.

As if a R&B performer writing his own songs and achieving mainstream fame was not innovative enough, Cooke continued to astonish the music business in the 1960s with the founding of his own label, SAR Records, 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. His first RCA single was the hit "Chain Gang"; this is probably his most famous song, and it reached #2 on the Billboard pop chart. This was followed by more hits, including "Sad Mood", "Bring it on Home to Me" (a duet with Lou Rawls), "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 uncredited for many of them by the general public.

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, it seems he was shot to death by Bertha Franklin (the manager of the Hacienda Motel, where Cooke was staying), who claimed that he had raped a young woman, then threatened Franklin, 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.

Cooke's influence has been immense: even people who has never heard one of his records, have still heard his voice and phrasing if they have listened to any Rod Stewart or Southside Johnny. Other rock artists with a notable Cooke heritage include The Animals, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen, Steve Perry, and numerous others, while R&B and soul artists indebted to Cooke include Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Lou Rawls, Al Green, and again many more.


Albums and compilations


  • 1958 Sam Cooke Diamond
  • 1958 Encore Keen
  • 1959 Hit Kit Keen
  • 1959 Tribute to the Lady - Billie Holiday Keen


  • 1960 Hits of the Fifties RCA
  • 1960 I Thank God Keen
  • 1960 Swing Low RCA
  • 1960 The Wonderful World of Sam Cooke Keen
  • 1961 My Kind of Blues RCA
  • 1962 Twistin' the Night Away RCA Victor
  • 1963 Mr. Soul RCA
  • 1963 Night Beat RCA
  • 1964 Ain't That Good News
  • 1960 Cooke's Tour RCA
  • 1963 Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963 RCA
  • 1964 Sam Cooke at the Copa Abkco
  • 1962 The Best of Sam Cooke RCA
  • 1965 Best of Sam Cooke, Vol. 2 RCA
  • 1965 Shake RCA
  • 1965 The Gospel Soul of Sam Cooke with the Soul Stirrers P-Vine Japan
  • 1965 Try a Little Love RCA Victor
  • 1966 The Unforgettable Sam Cooke Special Music
  • 1968 The Man Who Invented Soul RCA Victor
  • 1969 Cha Cha Cha Famous
  • 1969 Only Sixteen Famous
  • 1969 Sam's Songs Famous
  • 1969 So Wonderful Famous
  • 1969 The Late & Great Sam Cooke RCA
  • 1969 The One and Only Sam Cooke Camden


  • 1970 The 2 Sides of Sam Cooke Specialty
  • 1970 This Is Sam Cooke RCA
  • 1972 Golden Sounds Trip
  • 1974 The Legendary Sam Cooke Candlelite Mus
  • 1975 Sam Cooke Interprets Billie Holiday RCA
  • 1976 Golden Age RCA
  • 1976 Sings the Billie Holiday Story Up Front
  • 1979 When I Fall in Love Nut


  • 1981 Havin' a Party RCA
  • 1983 Fabulous Sam Cooke Cambra
  • 1983 His Greatest Hits RCA
  • 1984 Solitude Cambra
  • 1986 Forever Specialty
  • 1986 The Man and His Music Urban Heritage
  • 1987 20 Greatest Hits Compact
  • 1987 An Original Pair
  • 1987 Swing out Brother Topline
  • 1987 Wonderful World: The Best of Sam Cooke Card
  • 1989 World of Sam Cooke Instant


  • 1990 Sam Cooke & the Soul Stirrers Specialty
  • 1991 24 Golden Hits Huub
  • 1991 His Earliest Recordings Specialty
  • 1993 You Send Me Charly
  • 1994 The SAR Records Story ABKCO
  • 1995 The Rhythm and the Blues RCA
  • 1998 20 Great Hits Import
  • 1998 Greatest Hits RCA


  • 2000 16 Most Requested Songs Sony
  • 2000 Sam Cooke Collection Wea
  • 2000 The Man Who Invented Soul RCA
  • 2001 Hits BMG
  • 2002 Keep Movin' On Abkco
  • 2002 The Best of Sam Cooke Paradiso
  • 2002 The Complete Specialty Recordings of Sam Cooke Specialty
  • 2003 Portrait of a Legend 1951-1964 Abkco

Due to business and legal reasons, "A Change Is Gonna Come" was unavailable on record for decades, until the definitive Portrait of a Legend 1951-1964 compilation came out. (Although the song was heard in a climactic scene in the 1992 film Malcolm X, it was not on the accompanying soundtrack album.)



  • 1957 Forever
  • 1957 Summertime
  • 1957 You Send Me
  • 1958 (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons
  • 1958 Desire Me
  • 1958 I'll Come Running Back To You
  • 1958 Lonely Island
  • 1958 Love You Most Of All
  • 1958 Win Your Love For Me
  • 1958 You Were Made For Me
  • 1959 Everybody Likes To Cha Cha Cha
  • 1959 Only Sixteen
  • 1959 There, I've Said It Again


  • 1960 Chain Gang
  • 1960 Sad Mood
  • 1960 Teenage Sonata
  • 1960 Wonderful World
  • 1961 Cupid
  • 1961 Feel It
  • 1961 It's All Right
  • 1961 That's It - I Quit - I'm Movin' On
  • 1962 Bring It On Home To Me
  • 1962 Having A Party
  • 1962 Nothing Can Change This Love
  • 1962 Somebody Have Mercy
  • 1962 Twistin' The Night Away
  • 1963 Another Saturday Night
  • 1963 Baby, Baby, Baby
  • 1963 Frankie And Johnny
  • 1963 Little Red Rooster
  • 1963 Send Me Some Lovin'
  • 1964 Cousin Of Mine
  • 1964 Good News
  • 1964 Good Times
  • 1964 Tennessee Waltz
  • 1964 That's Where It's At
  • 1965 A Change Is Gonna Come
  • 1965 Cousin Of Mine
  • 1965 It's Got The Whole World Shakin'
  • 1965 Shake
  • 1965 Sugar Dumpling
  • 1965 When A Boy Falls In Love
  • 1966 Feel It
  • 1966 Let's Go Steady Again

External Links

  • Audio Interview with biographer Peter Guralnick on The Sound of Young America: MP3 Link

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Sam Cooke