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Sam Cooke – 50 years on

Written by admin on December 11, 2014 – 9:45 am -

The great Sam Cooke died 50 years ago today aged 33. The reason that the soul legend was shot will probably never be known with certainty, but the magnificence of his voice and charm of his recordings are in no doubt.

Sam Cooke

After years singing gospel music, most notably as the lead singer of the Soul Stirrers, Cooke signed with Keen Records as a solo secular artist in 1957 and landed a Billboard number one with “You Send Me”.

“You Send Me” – Sam Cooke

Cooke achieved a dozen pop hits with Keen over the next three years, including “Only Sixteen,” “Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha” and “Wonderful World”. The latter was released by Keen after Cooke had already left the label and signed with RCA. It remains one of his most appealing performances.

“Wonderful World” – Sam Cooke

The next four years saw Cooke release eight albums on RCA and achieve 29 pop hits. His biggest hits included “Chain Gang,” “Sad Mood,” “Cupid,” “Twistin’ the Night Away,” “Bring It on Home to Me” and “Another Saturday Night”.

“Cupid” – Sam Cooke

Cooke was also a talented songwriter, penning many of his hits, including “A Change is Gonna Come,” which became a civil rights anthem when released shortly after his untimely death.

“A Change is Gonna Come” – Sam Cooke

Cooke influenced many of his contemporaries, including Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and Otis Redding, and his influence is still felt today by popular artists such as Pharrell Williams. The excellence and impact of his recordings has been recognised with many posthumous honours, including induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1986), the Songwriters Hall of Fame (1987), and the Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame (2013). Three of Cooke’s songs are in the Grammy Hall of Fame ((“You Send Me,” “Wonderful World” and “A Change Is Gonna Come”) and he was honoured with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999.

Related items:
Song of the Week #151 – “A Change Is Gonna Come”
Song of the Week #131 – “Bring It On Home to Me”
Sam Cooke – Profile of a soul legend

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Posted in 60s pop, Soul |

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