Posted by themusicsover on December 11, 2009
January 22, 1931 – December 11, 1964
Sam Cooke was one of soul music’s most respected and influential artists. Over a career that spanned just seven years, he placed almost thirty songs on the Top 40 charts. More than that, Cooke was a savvy businessman and was a visible participant in the Civil Rights movement. His hits included “A Change is Gonna Come,” “You Send Me,” “Twistin’ the Night Away,” and “Chain Gang.” Cooke first came to prominence in 1950 as the singer for the influential gospel group, the Soul Stirrers. By the mid ’50s, he began releasing crossover pop records, and in 1961, he started his own record company, SAR Records, which soon signed the likes of Johnnie Taylor and Bobby Womack. Shortly thereafter, he formed his own publishing and management companies. On December 11, 1964, Sam Cooke, age 33 was shot and killed. That much we know. Official reports concluded that the manager of a motel shot him in self-defense during an altercation in which she felt threatened by Cooke, who was acting deranged and was wearing just a jacket and shoe. What officials finally surmised was that Cooke was at the motel with a woman who may or may not have been a hooker. And after the woman ran off with his clothes and money to either rob him or escape an attempted rape, Cooke went into a rage which lead to the altercation with the hotel manager. Although the case was closed as a “justifiable homicide,” many close to Cooke strongly believe that the reported events of the evening were fabricated to cover up his murder.
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