It’s been now about fifty three years when Sam Cooke was shot in a cheap motel in Los Angeles at the age of 33, but you have to separate the man from his music simply because he was a flawed and unpleasant man who was also one of the greatest singers of the 20th century.
He sold more than 10 million records. In addition to being a talented singer and songwriter,he also had business smarts. He established his own publishing company for his music in 1959 and negotiated an impressive contract with RCA records in 1960. Not only did he get a substantial advance,but he would also get ownership of his master recordings after 30 years. This was something unheard of back in that time period.
Sam Cooke was born in Clarksdale Mississippi in 1931 and then his family moved to Chicago,Illinois in 1933.In his starting musical career Sam started with a Gospel group called The Soul Stirrers who featured R.H. Harris on lead vocals. Sam Cooke replaced Harris in 1950.Straying away from his Gospel roots Sam started singing more into pop music and released his first #1 single “You Send Me” was released on the tiny Keen records label in 1957 and quickly rose to the top of the pop and R&B charts.
This song knocked Elvis Presley’s hit “Jailhouse Rock” from the top spot. After 2 years with Keen Records Sam left due to royalties disputes. He almost ended recording for Atlantic Records,but they wanted publishing rights to his songs. Cooke new the business side of the industry and realized he needed a deal that would give him rights to his own publishing. RCA records gave him that deal and the rest is history.
And then of course there is always some type of tragic moment in the life of someones career as they are becoming famous when something goes wrong. On December 11,1964 Sam Cooke was shot dead in a Los Angeles motel. No one knows for certain what happened,but it was reported that Sam had been out the night before drinking and met up with a woman,when they both ended up in a motel and what could go wrong went wrong.
The woman that was with him claimed that she was forced by Cooke to the room and that he tried to rape her. When she some how escaped while Sam was in the restroom,the woman went to the managers office to complaint. By that time Sam was trying to force himself into the managers office and claiming self-defense,the motel manager shot Cooke. Sam’s last words were “lady you shot me”.
Listen to the Little Red Rooster Show on the all new Classic hits station “KWMC 1490AM when we feature Sam Cooke as artist of the month. All information and known facts are by Wendy Johnson and all shows are produced by Javier Martinez