Theme Times – Sam Cooke


Sam Cooke

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Samuel Cook (January 22, 1931 – December 11, 1964), known professionally as Sam Cooke, was an American singer, songwriter, civil rights activist and entrepreneur.

Influential as both a singer and composer, he is commonly known as the King of Soul for his distinctive vocals and importance within popular music. He began singing as a child and joined The Soul Stirrers before moving to a solo career where he scored a string of hit songs like “You Send Me”, “A Change Is Gonna Come”, “Wonderful World”, “Chain Gang”, “Twistin’ the Night Away”, and “Bring it on Home to Me”.

His pioneering contributions to soul music contributed to the rise of Aretha Franklin, Bobby Womack, Al Green, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Billy Preston, and popularized the likes of Otis Redding and James Brown. AllMusic biographer Bruce Eder wrote that Cooke was “the inventor of soul music”, and possessed “an incredible natural singing voice and a smooth, effortless delivery that has never been surpassed”

On December 11, 1964, at the age of 33, Cooke was shot and killed by Bertha Franklin, the manager of the Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles, California. After an inquest, the courts ruled Cooke’s death to be a justifiable homicide. Since that time, the circumstances of his death have been called into question by Cooke’s family.


Sam Cooke

Who doesn’t know or hasn’t heard of Sam Cooke – well l guess there may well be some youngster. I remember many years ago, a remake of the House of the Rising Sun by the animals, and teenagers telling me it had never been heard before, and when l told them, who is had been released by ”originally” and in what year as in 1965 – they just stared at me as if l had lost the plot! So of course there are people whom have never heard of him, however to those of you who did, here’s 10 of his very best in my eyes! Let me know your choices below.

1 – Chain Gang – 1961

2 – Cupid – 1963

3 – Tennessee Waltz – 1964

4 – You Send Me – 1957

5 – Only Sixteen – 1962

6 – Summertime – 1957

7 – Little Red Rooster – 1963

8 – What A Wonderful World – 1960

9 – Having a Party – 1963

10 – Shake – 1965

So those were my top Ten favourites, what were yours?

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