Sam Cooke - Songwriters, Career and Personal Life

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Sam Cooke's Personal Details

Sam Cooke was one of the greatest American singers

InformationDetail
BirthdayJanuary 22, 1931
Died onDecember 11, 1964
NationalityAmerican
FamousSingers, Songwriters, Black Musicians, Black Singers, Died Young, Singers, Rhythm & Blues Singers, Gospel Singers
City/StateMississippi
SpousesBarbara Campbell, Dolores Mohawk
Known asSam Cook, Samuel Cook
Childrens Linda Womack
Universities
  • Wendell Phillips Academy High School
Founder / Co-Founder
  • SAR Records
Birth PlaceClarksdale
GenderMale
FatherCharles Cook
MotherAnnie Mae Cook
Sun SignAquarius
Born inClarksdale
Famous asSinger and Songwriter
Died at Age33

// Famous Singers

Sam Cooke's photo

Who is Sam Cooke?

Samuel Cook or Sam Cooke (as he was professionally known) was one of the greatest American singers. He was also a song writer, recording artist and entrepreneur. He is famously remembered as the ‘King of Soul’ for his contribution to popular music and importance as a singer and composer within the genre. He was even credited as the ‘the inventor of soul music’ by AllMusic biographer Bruce Eder. He created a connection between soul and pop music, and boasted a diverse collection that entertained audiences belonging to varied ethnicities and cultures. He influenced other popular musicians like Aretha Franklin, Art Garfunkel, Rod Stewart, Bobby Womack, Curtis Mayfield, Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Billy Preston, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding and James Brown. He delivered around 30 hits in eight years and even after death, three of his posthumously released songs became immensely popular. Some of his hit songs are ‘Chain Gang’, ‘You Send Me’, ‘Cupid’, ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’, ‘Wonderful World’, and ‘Twistin' the Night Away’. He was one of the pioneers who explored the business prospect of a musical career and launched his own record label and publishing company. He also actively participated in the Civil Rights Movement. He died at a young age of 33 and there was a lot of mystery and speculation surrounding the circumstances of his death.

// Famous Songwriters

Childhood & Early Life

Samuel Cook was born on January 22, 1931, in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He was born to a Baptist minister, the Rev. Charles Cook and his wife, Annie Mae; He had seven brothers and sisters.

The family migrated to Chicago in 1933 where he attended Doolittle Elementary and later Wendell Phillips Academy High School. He began his musical career at the age of nine when he joined a group called ‘The Singing Children’ along with his siblings. At the age of 14 he became a lead singer with the ‘Highway QC’s’.

His early works were inspired by a popular gospel group called the ‘Soul Stirrers’. In 1950, he got an opportunity to join the very same group as their lead singer.

Career

Sam Cooke facilitated a deal between the Soul Stirrers and Specialty Records, recording his first song ‘Jesus Gave Me Water’, in 1951. Other gospel songs like ‘How Far Am I from Canaan?’, ‘Peace in the Valley’, ‘One More River’, ‘Jesus Paid the Debt’ etc. followed. He wrote most of these songs and captured the attention of young audiences.

He remained with Soul Stirrers for the next six years before exploring secular music. His first single, ‘Lovable’ (remake of the gospel song ‘Wonderful’) was released in 1957 under nom de plume ‘Dale Cooke’. Later in the same year, he signed a deal with Keen Records and released his first number one hit, ‘You Send Me’; the song was No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart for six weeks. Around this time, he also sang ‘Only Sixteen’ and ‘Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha’. Amidst growing popularity, he appeared on ABC's ‘The Guy Mitchell Show’.

Being a business enthusiast, he established a publishing company for his music, in 1959. He also signed a profitable contract with RCA in 1960 and delivered the hit singles ‘Chain Gang’. The song occupied the second position on the Billboard pop chart. He also got the ownership of his master recordings.

In 1961, he established his own record label SAR Records, in collaboration with J.W. Alexander and Roy Crain. In the process of working with other artists, he enhanced the careers of Bobby Womack, Johnnie Taylor and Billy Preston.

Like other R&B artists of that era, he stressed on singles, holding 29 US top 40 hits on the pop charts, and more on the R&B charts. He was a creative writer and his songs were sometimes social commentaries.

Major Works

Sam Cooke’s single ‘You Send Me’ was released on September 7, 1957 by Keen Records and received huge commercial success. It topped Billboard 's R&B Records chart and Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also ranked No.115 in Rolling Stone magazine's ‘The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time’ in April 2010.

His single ‘Twistin' the Night Away’ was released on January 9, 1962 by RCA Victor. It won the first position in Billboard's R&B chart and ninth position in Billboard Hot 100. It also occupied the sixth position overseas, on the UK Singles Chart.

‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ was released on December 22, 1964 by RCA Victor. The song was inspired by various personal events and highlighted the struggles of African-Americans. It became an anthem for the American Civil Rights Movement and is considered to be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important”.

Awards & Achievements

In 1986, Sam Cooke was posthumously inducted as a charter member of the ‘Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’. The following year, he was initiated into the ‘Songwriters Hall of Fame’.

In 1999, he posthumously received the ‘Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award’ for his valuable contribution to music.

In 2008, Rolling Stone named him the fourth ‘Greatest Singer of All Time’.

Personal Life & Legacy

Sam Cooke was married twice in his lifetime. His first wife was singer-dancer Dolores Elizabeth Milligan Cook, who died in a car accident in 1959. They were already divorced at that time.

His second wife was Barbara with whom he had three children named Linda (born 1953), Tracy (born 1960), and Vincent (1961 - 1963).

He died on December 11, 1964 at the age of 33 leaving behind a marvellous musical legacy. He was fatally shot by Bertha Franklin, the manager of Hacienda Motel, Los Angeles following an altercation. The courts later ruled his death as justifiable homicide. Since then, the circumstances of his death have been questioned by his near and dear ones.

Trivia

A portion of East 36th Street in Chicago, where he sang as a teenager, has been renamed as the ‘Sam Cooke Way’ in his honour.

// Famous Black Musicians

Sam Cooke awards

YearNameAward

Other

1999 - Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
2000 ; 1998 - Grammy Hall of Fame - Shake / A Change Is Gonna Come ; You Send Me
2004 - Grammy Award for Best Music Film - Legend
1999 - Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award

Sam Cooke biography timelines

  • // 22nd Jan 1931
    Samuel Cook was born on January 22, 1931, in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He was born to a Baptist minister, the Rev. Charles Cook and his wife, Annie Mae; He had seven brothers and sisters.
  • // 1933
    The family migrated to Chicago in 1933 where he attended Doolittle Elementary and later Wendell Phillips Academy High School. He began his musical career at the age of nine when he joined a group called ‘The Singing Children’ along with his siblings. At the age of 14 he became a lead singer with the ‘Highway QC’s’.
  • // 1950
    His early works were inspired by a popular gospel group called the ‘Soul Stirrers’. In 1950, he got an opportunity to join the very same group as their lead singer.
  • // 1951
    Sam Cooke facilitated a deal between the Soul Stirrers and Specialty Records, recording his first song ‘Jesus Gave Me Water’, in 1951. Other gospel songs like ‘How Far Am I from Canaan?’, ‘Peace in the Valley’, ‘One More River’, ‘Jesus Paid the Debt’ etc. followed. He wrote most of these songs and captured the attention of young audiences.
  • // 1957
    He remained with Soul Stirrers for the next six years before exploring secular music. His first single, ‘Lovable’ (remake of the gospel song ‘Wonderful’) was released in 1957 under nom de plume ‘Dale Cooke’. Later in the same year, he signed a deal with Keen Records and released his first number one hit, ‘You Send Me’; the song was No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart for six weeks. Around this time, he also sang ‘Only Sixteen’ and ‘Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha’. Amidst growing popularity, he appeared on ABC's ‘The Guy Mitchell Show’.
  • // 7th Sep 1957 To Apr 2010
    Sam Cooke’s single ‘You Send Me’ was released on September 7, 1957 by Keen Records and received huge commercial success. It topped Billboard 's R&B Records chart and Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also ranked No.115 in Rolling Stone magazine's ‘The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time’ in April 2010.
  • // 1959 To 1960
    Being a business enthusiast, he established a publishing company for his music, in 1959. He also signed a profitable contract with RCA in 1960 and delivered the hit singles ‘Chain Gang’. The song occupied the second position on the Billboard pop chart. He also got the ownership of his master recordings.
  • // 1959
    Sam Cooke was married twice in his lifetime. His first wife was singer-dancer Dolores Elizabeth Milligan Cook, who died in a car accident in 1959. They were already divorced at that time.
  • // 1961
    In 1961, he established his own record label SAR Records, in collaboration with J.W. Alexander and Roy Crain. In the process of working with other artists, he enhanced the careers of Bobby Womack, Johnnie Taylor and Billy Preston.
  • // 9th Jan 1962
    His single ‘Twistin' the Night Away’ was released on January 9, 1962 by RCA Victor. It won the first position in Billboard's R&B chart and ninth position in Billboard Hot 100. It also occupied the sixth position overseas, on the UK Singles Chart.
  • // 11th Dec 1964
    He died on December 11, 1964 at the age of 33 leaving behind a marvellous musical legacy. He was fatally shot by Bertha Franklin, the manager of Hacienda Motel, Los Angeles following an altercation. The courts later ruled his death as justifiable homicide. Since then, the circumstances of his death have been questioned by his near and dear ones.
  • // 22nd Dec 1964
    ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ was released on December 22, 1964 by RCA Victor. The song was inspired by various personal events and highlighted the struggles of African-Americans. It became an anthem for the American Civil Rights Movement and is considered to be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important”.
  • // 1986
    In 1986, Sam Cooke was posthumously inducted as a charter member of the ‘Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’. The following year, he was initiated into the ‘Songwriters Hall of Fame’.
  • // 1999
    In 1999, he posthumously received the ‘Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award’ for his valuable contribution to music.
  • // 2008
    In 2008, Rolling Stone named him the fourth ‘Greatest Singer of All Time’.

// Famous Black Singers

Sam Cooke's FAQ

  • What is Sam Cooke birthday?

    Sam Cooke was born at 1931-01-22

  • When was Sam Cooke died?

    Sam Cooke was died at 1964-12-11

  • Where was Sam Cooke died?

    Sam Cooke was died in Hacienda Motel

  • Which age was Sam Cooke died?

    Sam Cooke was died at age 33

  • Where is Sam Cooke's birth place?

    Sam Cooke was born in Clarksdale

  • What is Sam Cooke nationalities?

    Sam Cooke's nationalities is American

  • Who is Sam Cooke spouses?

    Sam Cooke's spouses is Barbara Campbell, Dolores Mohawk

  • Who is Sam Cooke childrens?

    Sam Cooke's childrens is Linda Womack

  • What was Sam Cooke universities?

    Sam Cooke studied at Wendell Phillips Academy High School

  • Which company or organization was founded by Sam Cooke?

    Sam Cooke was the founder/co-founder of SAR Records

  • Who is Sam Cooke's father?

    Sam Cooke's father is Charles Cook

  • Who is Sam Cooke's mother?

    Sam Cooke's mother is Annie Mae Cook

  • What is Sam Cooke's sun sign?

    Sam Cooke is Aquarius

  • How famous is Sam Cooke?

    Sam Cooke is famouse as Singer and Songwriter