- Lost and Lookin’
- Mean Old World
- Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen
- Please Don’t Drive Me Away
- I Lost Everything
- Get Yourself Another Fool
- Little Red Rooster
- Laughin’ and Clownin’
- Trouble Blues
- You Gotta Move
- Fool’s Paradise
- Shake Rattle and Roll
- Night Beat
- Twistin’ the Night Away
- That’s All I Need to Know
- When I Fall in Love
by Jimmie Elliott (SHS)
Sam Cooke was born Samuel Cook on Thursday, January 22, 1931, in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He was one of five boys (Willie, Sam, Charles Jr,. L.C., and David) and three girls (Hattie, Mary, Agnes) born to Rev. Charles and Annie Mae Cook. The family moved to Chicago in 1933. Sam started singing when he was 19 years old with a group called the Soul Stirrers, which included two of his sisters and one brother. Cooke released a pop single called “Loveable” in 1956 on the same Specialty label that recorded the Stirrers’ music, but he used the name “Dale Cooke” on the label instead of Sam to avoid upsetting the gospel group that he sang with. (Lablanc 58). RCA Victor signed him in 1960 after he already had several R & B hits for Specialty Records (Wilson 73).
Cooke is the composer of numerous songs, including “Another Saturday Night,” “Bring it on Home to Me.” “A Change is Gonna Come,” and “Cupid.” His first hit for Keen was the 1957 release that he wrote with his brother, L.C. Cooke, “You Send Me,” which sold million copies in 1957 alone. Popular with black and white audiences alike, Cooke, who wrote most of his own material, is remembered for such hit songs as “Only Sixteen, “”Wonderful World,” and “Chain Gang” (Lablanc 58-59). He was the very first superstar of soul, but he was forever looking over his shoulder at the church he’d left behind (Wilson 73).
In the early 1960’s, Cooke was also working as a record producer on his own independent label, SAR, which released cuts like “Soothe Me” by the Simms Twins, and “Rome wasn’t Built in a Day” by Johnny Taylor. He left some recorded but unreleased material when he died, so in 1965 “A Change is Gonna Come” and “Shake” were added to his list of hit records. ” A Change is Gonna Come” gave new social overtones to a familiar black expression (Lablanc 59).
Sam Cooke had many major single releases such as “Loveable” and “You Send Me.” In 1961 he released “Cupid” his hit song of supplication to the Roman God of love. In 1982 he capitalized on the new dance craze, the Twist, with “Twistin’ the Night Away” . On January 23, 1986, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. On June 15, 1993, he was awarded the Apollo Theater Foundation Chairman Award (Pollak). He was tragically shot to death on December 11, 1964, in Los Angeles, California. Cooke’s death in 1964 meant that he never lived to see his own prophecy “A Change is Gonna Come” become truer than he would ever have believed (Pollak).
- (1931) Sam Cooke was born.
- (1933) The family moved to Chicago.
- (1956) Released a pop single called “Lovable.”
- (1957) His first hit for Keen was the release that he wrote with his brother, L.C. Cooke, “You Send Me” which sold a million copies all alone.
- (1960) RCA Victor signed him after he already had several R & B hits for Specialty records.
- (1962) He capitalized on the new dance craze, the Twist, with “Twistin’ the Night Away.”
- (1964) Cooke was shot to death.
- (1965) Some recorded but unreleased material were released. “A Change Is Gonna Come” and “Shake” added to his list of hit records.
- Interesting page about Sam Cooke.
- Biography of Sam Cooke on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
- Page on Sam Cooke on Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (inducted in 1986)
- Sam Cooke’s Night Beat Back again – a unique album by the great soul singer. It starts softly, with the bass repeatedly playing two low notes, then two higher notes in a slow even rhythm. Review of the album.
- Biography.com page on Sam Cooke
- Biography of Sam Cooke
- Lablanc, Micheal “Sam Cooke” Contemporary Music. Vol 1 Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research Inc., 1992. 124-126.
- Wilson, Christine “Sam Cooke” All Shook Up: Mississippi Roots of American Popular Music: Jackson, Mississippi, 1995.