Sam Cooke – circa 1962
“Oh-whoah, little girl / How happy I would be / If some miracle / Could win your love for me” – ‘Win Your Love For Me’ (Sam Cooke)
In New York’s Times Square a twenty-by-one hundred foot billboard is erected. ‘Who’s the biggest cook in town?’ it asks. Is it an advertisement for a famous chef? Several days later, the sign is enlarged by forty-five feet and a photograph weighing fifteen hundred pounds is added. The new message is ‘Sam’s the biggest Cooke in town.’ The visage of African-American pop singer Sam Cooke beams down at the city. It is 24 June 1964 and the billboard is advertising Sam Cooke’s two-week engagement at New York’s Copacabana Club. The singer spent ten thousand dollars of his own money on this audacious billboard. Even in an industry where giant egos are commonplace, such a gesture is breathtaking. Ego may be just a shadow cast by ambition. It is ambition that really drives Sam Cooke.
Sam Cooke (22 January 1931-11 December 1964) is born Samuel Cook (without an ‘e’ at the end of his surname) in Clarksdale, Mississippi, U.S.A. He is the son of Reverend Charles S. Cook and his wife, Annie Mae Cook (nee Carl). “My father was a Minister,” says Sam. Reverend Cook officiates at the Church of Christ (Holiness). Most accounts describe Reverend Cook as being of the Baptist faith, but one account has it that he was a Pentecostal preacher. Charles Cook also worked as a domestic servant. Sam is the fifth of eight children born to Reverend Charles Cook and his wife, Annie Mae. Sam’s brothers are: Willie Cook, Charles Cook Jr., L.C. Cook (born 1932) and David Cook. Sam’s sisters are: Hattie, Mary and Agnes.
The Cook family moves to Chicago, Illinois, in 1933. They live on Cottage Grove Avenue in Bronzeville and Sam grows up on the south side of Chicago. Sam’s ambitions start very early. His younger brother, L.C. Cook, recalls watching Sam plant sticks in the dirt. When he asks Sam the reason for this, L.C. is told that the sticks are Sam’s audience and he proceeds to sing to them. “I started singing in the church, naturally,” says Sam. To please his ‘demanding’ father, Sam begins singing with the church choir when Sam is 6 years old. He acquires featured performer status. When he is 9, Sam begins to perform with his siblings as The Singing Children.
The individual who will become famous as Sam Cooke attends Doolittle Elementary School and then Wendell Phillips Academy High School. When Sam is 14 he joins The Highway QCs, a vocal act described as ‘the house group at the Highway Baptist Church.’ The Highway QCs are managed by R.B. Robinson, the baritone in another vocal group, The Soul Stirrers. While he is singing with The Highway QCs, Sam meets Lou Rawls for the first time. Rawls is singing with a rival gospel group. Sam and Lou are both only teenagers, but R.B. Robinson’s group The Soul Stirrers are much more professional. Sam’s idol in these days is a singer named Rebert H. Harris. What fascinates him is R.H. Harris’ voice. Most gospel singers at the time have a gruff, throaty style of singing, but Harris is different. His voice is just as intense, but it is higher with a top end that is almost a yodel. R.H. Harris sings with The Gospel Paraders for a while, but is better known for his work with The Soul Stirrers, the act founded by Silas Roy Crain – S.R. Crain – that includes baritone singer R.B. Robinson.
At Wendell Phillips Academy High School, Sam Cook (still without the ‘e’ at the end of his surname) is ‘a popular teenager’ who ‘has many girlfriends.’ However his ‘high school sweetheart’ is said to be Barbara Campbell. Sam graduates from high school in 1948. Shortly after graduation, Sam gets in trouble with the law. He is charged with distributing pornographic material and is imprisoned for three months in Cook County Jail. It appears that some of the offending material fell into the hands of a preacher’s daughter who was one of Sam’s classmates and she lodged the complaint against him – though, ironically, Sam is also the child of a preacher. There is some suggestion that Sam’s conviction was racially motivated and an example of the discriminatory application of the law at the time. This is possibly true, but the incident also demonstrates that Sam is not exactly an angel.
In 1950 R.H. Harris quits The Soul Stirrers. S.R. Crain, aware that Sam Cook has been cultivating a silky singing style similar to Harris, offers the job as the group’s lead singer to the ambitious young man. From 1950 to 1957 Sam Cook is the lead singer of The Soul Stirrers. They are a popular act on the gospel circuit. This is almost like an underground form of show business. Although these gospel acts are playing churches and meeting halls singing songs in praise of the Lord, they are also very well paid. Sam Cook helps The Soul Stirrers attract a younger audience. With his ‘hypnotically smooth voice’ and ‘finely chiselled good looks,’ Sam is immensely popular with the female congregation. He ‘offers a combination of religious charisma and sweaty sexuality.’ The lifestyle of the performers on the gospel circuit does not always align too closely with the church’s morality, but an indulgent blind eye is turned to their trespasses. On the other hand, on at least one occasion, Sam Cook refuses to perform with The Soul Stirrers in front of a segregated audience. At the time, it is still reasonably common in some parts of the U.S.A. for ‘whites’ and ‘coloreds’ to be separated by a rope strung down the middle of concert venues.
Even before Sam Cook joined The Soul Stirrers, the group was releasing recordings on the Speciality label. Owned by Art Rupe, Speciality is a label ‘whose name indicates their exclusive interest in black performers, especially gospel acts.’ Sam Cook’s debut recording with The Soul Stirrers is the 1951 recording of ‘Jesus Gave Me Water’, an old gospel standard. It proves to be their most successful recording. Other singles by The Soul Stirrers in this era are ‘How Far Am I From Canaan’ in 1952, ‘Jesus Paid The Debt’ from 1953 and ‘One More River’ in 1955. Sam even writes some original material for The Soul Stirrers. However, commercial success and hit singles ‘seem fewer and far between, and each sells less and less.’
Sam Cook and his ‘high school sweetheart’ Barbara Campbell have a child together, a daughter named Linda (born on 25 April 1955). Sam Cook gets married later that year – but not to Barbara Campbell. Instead, on 14 October 1953 he marries Dolores Elizabeth Milligan, more commonly known as Dolores Mohawk. Sam met Dolores in California.
Sam Cook’s notoriety as a gospel singer leads him to sing at the Detroit church of Reverend C.L. Franklin. His host’s daughter, Aretha Franklin (born on 25 March 1942), will one day become a famous singer in her own right and be acclaimed as the ‘Queen of Soul’. Sam is described as ‘a family friend.’
Although the gospel music community may have ignored the wayward personal conduct of some of their stars, there is one thing that is seemingly unforgiveable. You do not cross over to secular music. This is seen as an act of betrayal. A singer who uses his gospel training to make pop music is wasting the talent that should be devoted to God. The ambitious Sam Cook already has a large following on the gospel circuit, but should he risk losing those fans pursuing a wider audience in pop music?
A single called ‘Lovable’ is released in 1956. It is attributed to Dale Cook. When asked about the song, Sam Cook pretends ‘Dale’ is one of his brothers. Of course ‘Dale Cook’ is actually Sam himself trying his hand at pop music. Nobody is really fooled. Since Sam was already performing a song called ‘Wonderful’ in which God is said to be so wonderful and this new song, with the same melody, has ‘Dale’ proclaiming his girl is so lovable, it’s hard to believe the credibility of the whole charade.
In the early part of Sam Cooke’s career, his management seems divided between two men. Silas Roy Crain, founder of The Soul Stirrers, is described as Sam’s ‘road manager, business partner and advisor.’ James W. Alexander is said to be ‘Sam’s close friend, manager and business associate.’ Alexander sees Sam’s potential in the music world beyond gospel, but Crain seems to have no problem with that concept either. Sam’s own ambitions have a part to play here. When later asked why he switched to secular music, Sam responds, “My economic situation” was the driving force. This may seem a bit disingenuous given that there was good money made on the gospel circuit. However, if framed in terms of Sam’s ambitions, there was certainly more money to be made in pop. It offers a better economic situation, even if Sam’s previous status was not exactly extreme poverty. Sam’s father, Reverend Charles Cook, also gives his blessing to his son’s move away from gospel music.
The real tipping point in Sam Cooke’s transition from gospel to pop takes place in the recording studio. Specialty’s (white) owner Art Rupe walks into the studio one night to find Sam working with producer Robert ‘Bumps’ Blackwell on something that certainly doesn’t sound like gospel music. Art Rupe is not at all impressed and sells Blackwell the rights to take the singer’s pop music elsewhere. Certainly, Speciality is known for its gospel recordings. Yet, by 1956 they are also doing well with Little Richard’s early rock ‘n’ roll hits also under the supervision of ‘Bumps’ Blackwell. Perhaps the explanation is that while Little Richard virtually came out of nowhere, Art Rupe thought Sam Cook (the gospel singer with The Soul Stirrers) was throwing away a solid career to experiment with pop? (Note: Robert ‘Bumps’ Blackwell, record producer for Sam Cooke an d Little Richard, should not be confused with Otis Blackwell, songwriter for Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, who was active around the same time.)
Robert ‘Bumps’ Blackwell takes Sam Cook to the Keen record label founded by Bob Keane. In the process, in 1957 Sam Cook changes the spelling of his surname. Sam Cook, the gospel singer, is history. Sam Cooke (with an ‘e’), the pop singer, is just about to launch his career.
Sam Cooke’s music can be described as a blend of four elements.
Firstly, there is gospel music. The singer may have abandoned spirituals for secular music, but his approach was born and forged in gospel. It continues to underpin all his later recordings. The high and light voice, the careful diction, and even his physical appeal to women, are all characteristics that date back to his work with The Soul Stirrers.
The second component of Sam Cooke’s music is teen pop. When Sam started with The Soul Stirrers in 1950, rock ‘n’ roll did not exist. By the dawn of his solo career in 1957, rock ‘n’ roll is everywhere. The prime audience for rock ‘n’ roll is teenagers, particularly white teenagers. African-American rockers like Church Berry and Little Richard had already discovered this. Their songs of school days and tight-pressed jeans were bringing them a wider audience than the more purist (i.e. black-oriented) rhythm and blues acts enjoyed. Sam Cooke seems to pick up this cue and many of his recordings are wilfully aimed at adolescents.
Sam Cooke also courts an adult pop audience. Some of his songs target the supper-club crowd, the sophisticated gentry. In this respect, Sam models himself on Johnny Mathis and, particularly, Nat ‘King’ Cole. These are polite African-American recording artists who do not frighten older white audiences with the ‘jungle’ rhythms of rock ‘n’ roll or rhythm and blues. That sounds horribly racist but, sadly, that was the temper of the times.
Finally, there is soul music. Generally, Solomon Burke’s 1961 hit ‘Just Out Of Reach (Of My Two Open Arms)’ is considered the first soul record. If that’s the case, then a large chunk of Sam Cooke’s work predates the introduction of soul yet exhibits many of the same traits. For the sake of convenience, let’s call it proto-soul. Soul takes many of the idioms of gospel and transfers them to a more secular music. This is what Sam Cooke is doing too. The disapproval Cooke faces from some quarters in 1957 largely evaporates in the wider community by 1961. It may seem hard to believe the culture could change so much so quickly, but it’s true. These are the tumultuous years of the growth of the black civil rights movement and the rise of charismatic figures such as Reverend Martin Luther King. As Sam Cooke’s music matures, these ideals clearly resonate with him and his music takes on an earthier, ‘blacker’ sound accordingly.
These four elements – gospel, teen pop, adult pop and proto-soul – may seem contradictory. How can you appeal to teens and adults? How can you use both gospel and pop? How can you be proudly African-American and court an urbane white audience? The answer to the apparent conflict is ambition. Sam Cooke is not a niche artist for a limited market. He wants it all. It is this drive to embrace so much that allows Cooke to tailor his music into something flexible enough to encompass all these diverse markets.
“I’ve written just about all I sing,” claims Sam Cooke at one point. That’s a bit of a distortion. A look through Sam Cooke’s catalogue reveals that it is peppered with cover versions of songs first recorded by other artists. There are also a number of songs that Cooke co-writes with other authors. However, it is fair enough to say that the majority of Sam Cooke’s biggest hits are written by the man himself.
When composing songs, Sam Cooke must have played an instrument. There is photographic evidence of him playing guitar, so presumably he composed on guitar. However, on stage and in the recording studio, Sam Cooke left the playing to others. His most common musical aide is Rene Hall who plays guitar on many of Cooke’s songs as well as writing musical arrangements. Here is a list of Sam Cooke’s musicians on his recordings in roughly chronological order: guitars – Rene Hall, Cliff White, Joseph Gibbons, Tommy Tedesco; keyboards – Ed Beal, Ernie Freeman, Ray Johnson, Billy Preston; bass – Ted Brinson, Adolphus Alsbrook, Clifford Hills, Red Callendar, Eddie Tillman; drums – Earl Palmer, Charles Blackwell, Ronnie Sellco, Frank Capp, Hal Blaine, Edward Hall; saxophone – John Kelson, John Ewing, Jewell Grant, William Green; trombone – John Ewing; trumpet – Stuart Williamson; backing vocals – James W. Alexander, Lou Rawls, George ‘Opie’ McCurn, The Soul Stirrers. Additionally, a string section (violins, viola, cello) is employed on some songs.
In May 1957 Sam Cooke leaves The Soul Stirrers. His position in the group is filled by Johnnie Taylor.
In 1957 Sam Cooke divorces his first wife, Dolores Mohawk. He leaves Chicago to reside in Los Angeles. In the summer of 1957 Sam Cooke is struggling financially and has to live in the apartment of his producer, ‘Bumps’ Blackwell.
The first single credited to Sam Cooke is released on the Keen label on 7 September 1957. This is ‘You Send Me’ (US no. 1, UK no. 29) backed with ‘Summertime’ (US no. 29). The recordings are produced by Robert ‘Bumps’ Blackwell. Sam laid down a demo recording of ‘You Send Me’ back in winter 1955, accompanying himself on guitar. He had hoped his younger brother L.C. Cook would record the song. Initially the songwriting credit goes to L.C. Cook but it seems generally acknowledged that Sam Cooke is the true author. When his brother didn’t record the song, Sam tried recording ‘You Send Me’ himself in December 1956 in the same session that resulted in ‘Lovable’, the single credited to his pseudonym, Dale Cook. A new version of ‘You Send Me’ is recorded in Los Angeles in June 1957 and it is this take that is released as a single. ‘You Send Me’ hovers between teen pop and adult pop. It’s simple enough for the kids to easily understand and appreciate, but it’s not so puerile that it would embarrass the grown-ups. Sam’s vocal delivery is pure gospel with its delicate and precise vocal shadings and intonation. “At first I thought it was infatuation,” he sings, “But, ooh, it’s lasted so long / Now I find myself wanting / To marry you and take you home.” ‘You Send Me’ is the musical equivalent of a meringue; it’s sweet, light and airy. ‘You Send Me’ makes Sam Cooke an ‘overnight success.’ It becomes Cooke’s only no. 1 single, topping the U.S. pop charts for two weeks (23 November 1957 to 30 November 1957). ‘You Send Me’ is said to be ‘a pioneering soul record, melding elements of rhythm and blues, gospel and pop.’ White singer Teresa Brewer records a cover version of ‘You Send Me’ in October 1957. It was common for hits by black singers to be reworked for a white audience. But, in a sign of the times, Cooke’s original remains more successful. The B side to ‘You Send Me’, ‘Summertime’, is a cover version of the song composed by George Gershwin with lyricist DuBose Heyward for the 1935 opera ‘Porgy And Bess’.
Perhaps stung by the success of their erstwhile artist, Specialty Records raids their files for a ‘new’ Sam Cooke single. On 18 November 1957 Speciality issues ‘I’ll Come Running Back To You’ (US no. 18) b/w ‘Forever’ (US no. 60). ‘I’ll Come Running Back To You’ is written by Bill Cook, another individual said to be ‘Sam’s manager.’ ‘Forever’ is written by Alvin Tyler.
Keen responds with another 1957 Sam Cooke single, ‘(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons’ (US no. 17) b/w ‘Desire Me’ (US no. 47). ‘(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons’ has an arrangement that makes it sound like a more elaborate version of ‘You Send Me’. It is actually a cover version of a song first recorded by Deek Watson And His Brown Dots in 1940, though Nat ‘King’ Cole’s 1947 rendition may be better known. ‘Desire Me’ is penned by Bruce Culver.
At the start of 1958, the ever-ambitious Sam Cooke signs with the William Morris Agency. This famed group will act as his publicists and representatives.
The debut album, ‘Songs By Sam Cooke’ (1958) (US no. 16), is released by Keen in February. This disc is produced by Robert ‘Bumps’ Blackwell. It includes ‘You Send Me’ and ‘Summertime’, but none of the other songs from Sam Cooke’s 1957 singles.
In March 1958 Sam Cooke gives a show at New York’s celebrated nightspot The Copacabana for the first time. It’s a prestigious gig, but Cooke receives ‘a cool reception.’ It’s easy enough to justify as being due to some nervousness on the part of a performer still learning to reach a secular crowd. But for a man who asserts, “I have an intense desire to make all my audience happy,” it rankles Cooke as a relative ‘failure.’ “I bombed,” Cooke admits. “I wasn’t ready.”
‘You Were Made For Me’ (US no. 39) b/w ‘Lonely Island’ (US no. 26) is released on 24 March 1958. “We’ll have our quarrels and you’ll upset me / But what can I do?” Sam Cooke asks on the abiding ‘You Were Made For Me’. The “wah, wah, wah” backing vocals suggest the singer’s history of working with gospel vocal groups. Sam Cooke describes ‘You Were Made For Me’ as “one of my favourite records.” ‘Lonely Island’, a tale of big city isolation, is a bit sharper than Sam’s previous fare with its martial rhythm. ‘Lonely Island’ is written by George Alexander Aberle under the name of Eden Ahbez.
The 1958 single ‘Win Your Love For Me’ (US no. 22) manages to channel Sam Cooke’s ambitious approach to life into a romantic song of ambitious love. It’s more varied percussive effects find a lyrical echo in the line, “My heart beats like a tom-tom.”
Around this time, Sam Cooke parts ways with record producer Robert ‘Bumps’ Blackwell. Jess Rand of the William Morris Agency at least temporarily guides his client’s recordings.
The swaying ‘Love You Most Of All’ (US no. 26) is most notable for having its songwriting credited to Barbara Campbell, Sam’s former sweetheart, who has re-entered his life. The song is actually written by Sam, but the credit shift is an attempt to dodge a legal dispute with his old label, Specialty. Sam Cooke’s next two singles are also initially credited to Barbara Campbell, but it seems they too are Sam’s work and she has little or nothing to do with their composition.
‘Encore’ (1958), Sam Cooke’s second album, does not include any of his 1958 hit singles. ‘Encore’ does not register on the album charts. In fact, none of Cooke’s subsequent albums until 1962 will reach the charts. Like most performers of this era, Sam Cooke’s career is more oriented towards singles than albums.
On 10 November 1958 a car in which Sam Cooke is travelling is involved in an accident near Marion, Arkansas. Sam suffers only ‘minor eye injuries,’ but his chauffeur, Edward Cunningham, is killed. Additionally, Sam’s fellow singer Lou Rawls (currently performing with The Pilgrim Travellers Quartet on tour with Cooke) is injured and temporarily left in a coma.
In January 1959 Sam Cooke releases the single ‘Everybody Loves To Cha Cha Cha’ (US no. 31). The song is a polite inducement to dance, a quaint tie-in to a dance step. The songwriting credit for ‘Everybody Loves To Cha Cha Cha’ is assigned to Sam Cooke’s girlfriend Barbara Campbell but, in reality, it is probably written by Cooke.
‘Tribute To The Lady’ (1959), released around January or February, is Sam Cooke’s salute to the jazz singer Billie Holiday. After struggling with drug addiction, her health is failing and Billie Holiday will pass away from a liver ailment a few months later on 17 July 1959.
Sam Cooke’s ex-wife, Dolores Mohawk (a.k.a. Dolores Elizabeth Milligan Cook), dies on 22 March 1959. Her death is the result of injuries suffered after she drove her car into a tree in Fresno, California, while she was intoxicated. Although they were divorced, Sam Cooke still pays for Dolores’ funeral. ‘Somewhere There’s A Girl’, on which Cooke is co-credited as author with Roscoe Robinson, is reputedly written about Dolores after her death. Like the early ‘Lovable’, this is apparently a rewrite of a more religious tune titled ‘Somewhere There’s A God’. Sam Cooke gives away ‘Somewhere There’s A Girl’ to The Valentinos who record it in 1962. His own interpretation of the song is not generally available until the compilation album ‘Sam Cooke’s SAR Records Story 1959-1965’ (1994) is released. In Sam’s version, he is backed by The Soul Stirrers who provide sighing supporting vocals while Sam strums a gospel tune about a girl “With those pretty eyes / With a lovely smile.”
The single ‘Only Sixteen’ (US no. 28, UK no. 23), released in May 1959, becomes one of Sam Cooke’s signature tunes. It is the last of his hits for which the songwriting is attributed to his girlfriend, Barbara Campbell, though Sam evidently wrote it in collaboration with Lou Adler and Herb Alpert. Both of these men go on to form record labels: Dunhill (Lou Adler) and A & M (Herb Alpert & Jerry Moss). ‘Only Sixteen’ was inspired by the sixteenth birthday of a girl named Eunice. She is the step-sister of Sam’s fellow singer, Lou Rawls. It was intended to be a single for the actor Steve Rowland, but when he rejected it, Cooke elected to record it himself. In ‘Only Sixteen’, the narrator bemoans the fact that the girl he adored “was too young to fall in love / And I was too young to know.” The backing vocalists chide him until the twist in the lyric as he sings, “But I was a mere lad of sixteen /I’ve aged a year since then.” This is clearly aimed at the teen pop audience and meets its goals admirably. The buoyant, cantering rhythm keeps the song bobbing like a cork on the water.
‘Hit Kit’ (1959) is the first compilation album of Sam Cooke’s most commercially successful songs. Given that, to date, so few of Cooke’s hit singles show up on his albums, Keen Records did well to make them all available on this long-player.
Sam Cooke marries his second wife, Barbara Campbell, on 9 October 1959. Sam’s father, Reverend Charles S. Cook, performs the ceremony. Sam and Barbara already have a daughter, Linda (born on 25 April 1953), but they go on to have two more children: a daughter named Tracy (born on 6 September 1960) and a son named Vincent (19 December 1961-17 June 1963).
Sam Cooke has two more minor hit singles in 1959: a cover version of Vaughan Monroe’s 1945 recording ‘There I’ve Said It Again’ (US no. 81) and the original ‘No One (Can Ever Take Your Place)’ (US no. 103).
On 9 November 1959 the production team of Hugo and Luigi offer a guarantee of one hundred thousand dollars to Sam Cooke if he will sign with RCA Records when his contract with Keen expires. Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore are New York Italians who have been involved with rhythm and blues acts since the mid-1950s. RCA is the label for which Elvis Presley records, another artist who shares Sam Cooke’s desire for the widest possible audience. Although Cooke has done well with Keen, his ambitions will always push him toward bigger things.
Sam Cooke’s first single for RCA is ‘Teenage Sonata’ (US no. 50). ‘A saccharine ditty’ penned by Jeff Barry, ‘Teenage Sonata’ is issued in February 1960 ‘to dismal results.’ This is followed in March 1960 by ‘You Understand Me’. This (non-charting) single is written by Al Hoffman and Dick Manning and produced by Hugo and Luigi under the alias of ‘Mark Markwell.’
On 14 March 1960 Sam Cooke begins a two-week concert tour of the West Indies with a show in Montego Bay, Jamaica. This is an interesting example of Cooke trying to connect with a broader black audience. While trying to reach white consumers, he clearly has not forgotten those who share his racial origins. Sam Cooke will tour this region two more times in the next few years.
Sam Cooke’s former label, Keen, releases one more single by Cooke. ‘Wonderful World’ (US no. 12, UK no. 27) is issued on 14 April 1960. The song started out as a collaboration between songwriters Lou Adler and Herb Alpert, but they asked Cooke to take a pass at the song. He polished and adjusted the piece as well as acting as the producer of the recording session. ‘Wonderful World’ is a charming novelty sung in the voice of an academically-challenged youth who is only really sure about one thing: his feelings for the girl he admires. The school lessons are more confusing. ‘Wonderful World’ sits comfortably next to ‘Only Sixteen’ in Sam Cooke’s array of teen pop. Keen capitalises on the success of the single by issuing the album ‘The Wonderful World Of Sam Cooke’ (1960) and a collection of his gospel material, ‘I Thank God’ (1960).
‘Cooke’s Tour’ (1960), released in April, is Sam Cooke’s first album for RCA. Produced by Hugo and Luigi, this set contains no original compositions. Instead, Sam Cooke essays various songs representing different countries or areas of the world on this musical ‘tour’ of the globe.
Around this time, Sam Cooke moves into the business side of music in addition to his work as a performer. The SAR record label is incorporated in 1960. It is a partnership between Sam Cooke, James W. Alexander and Roy Crain, his managers. It is first intended to be a gospel label for Sam’s former vocal group, The Soul Stirrers. ‘But the sanctity of the label doesn’t last long.’ By 1961, the label’s content is decidedly more secular. Sam Cooke also creates another associated record label, Derby Records, and the publishing company Kags Music. Though Sam Cooke’s own product continues to be issued by RCA, he uses his companies to foster other talents such as the following acts: (1) The Valentinos: In the mid-1950s, Sam Cooke first met The Womack Brothers, an act from Cleveland consisting of five male siblings: Friendly Womack, Curtis Womack, Bobby Womack (1944-2014), Harry Womack (1945-1974) and Cecil Womack (1947-2013). With Bobby out front, The Valentinos record in 1961 ‘It’s All Over Now’, a song that becomes a hit for The Rolling Stones as well in 1964. In 1962 The Valentinos record ‘Somewhere There’s A Girl’, Sam Cooke’s tribute to his late ex-wife, Dolores Mohawk. 13 year old Cecil Womack first meets Sam Cooke’s 8 year old daughter Linda in 1960. (2) Billy Preston (1946-2006): After playing on one of Sam Cooke’s 1963 albums, Billy Preston makes his own album, ’16 Yr. Old Soul’ (1964) for the Derby label. In later years, Preston is famed for working with 1960s British rock titans The Beatles (on The Beatles albums ‘Abbey Road’ (1969) and ‘Let It Be’ (1970)) and a string of early 1970s hits in his own right: ‘Outa-Space’ (US no. 2) in 1972; ‘Will It Go Round In Circles’ (US no. 1) in 1973; and ‘Nothing From Nothing’ (US no. 1) in 1974. (3) Johnnie Taylor (1934-2000): Sam Cooke’s replacement in The Soul Stirrers records as a solo artist for SAR from 1962 to 1964. (4) Mel Carter (born in 1939): He records ‘When A Boy Falls In Love’ in 1962, a song co-written by Sam Cooke. (5) L.C. Cook: Sam’s younger brother. (6) The Simms Twins. (7) Johnnie Morrisette. In addition, Sam Cooke helps his friend Lou Rawls get a recording contract with the Shardee label, an early project for Lou Adler and Herb Alpert., the men who co-wrote with Sam Cooke the hits ‘Only Sixteen’ and ‘Wonderful World’.
‘Chain Gang’ (US no. 2, UK no. 9), Sam Cooke’s third single for RCA, is his first big success on that label. The song is released on 26 July 1960. ‘Chain Gang’ is co-written by Sam Cooke and his brother Charles Cook, Jr. (though sometimes it is credited to Sam alone). The song is inspired by a meeting with a chain gang of prisoners working on the road. Sam encounters them while on tour. According to legend, Sam and his brother Charles give the convicts some cigarettes. ‘Chain Gang’ is ‘a strange mix of sweet melodies and gritty, sweaty sensibilities.’ Instead of a drum, the song’s beat is made by a stick hitting a leather stool. The clanking chain sound comes from banging the microphone on the base. Sam Cooke produces this record himself. Although ‘Chain Gang’ has a catchy melody and attention-grabbing metallic sound effects, the mild social conscience it displays is more significant. Sam Cooke is taking a greater interest in justice for African-Americans.
The album ‘Hits Of The 50s’ (1960), released in August, is not a collection of Sam Cooke’s earlier songs. It is a collection all right, but it is a collection of Sam’s interpretations of hits by other artists. Here he tackles songs first recorded by the likes of Nat ‘King’ Cole, Frankie Avalon and Doris Day. Hugo and Luigi produce this disc.
Sam Cooke releases two more singles in 1960. The first of these is ‘So Glamorous’ (US no. 81). It is followed on 8 November 1960 by ‘Sad Mood’ (US no. 29). The song is introduced by wolfish “ah-oo” backing vocals. ‘Sad Mood’ finds Cooke lamenting, “Oh my baby done gone away and left me.” It is a bit bluesy, but still polite supper-club stuff.
The first Sam Cooke single for 1961 is ‘That’s It, I Quit, I’m Movin’ On’ (US no. 31), released on 14 February.
The album ‘Swing Low’ (a.k.a. ‘Sam Cooke’) (1961) is issued in March. This set includes ‘Chain Gang’ and ‘You Belong To Me’ (the latter co-written by Sam Cooke and James W. Alexander). As may be anticipated, the album is named after the negro spiritual ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’ (first recorded in 1909 by The Fisk Jubilee Singers), a version of which Sam Cooke records for this album.
Sam Cooke plays some shows in 1961 with the now 18 year old Aretha Franklin.
The best of Sam Cooke’s 1961 singles is ‘Cupid’ (US no. 7, UK no. 7), released on 16 May. Producers Hugo and Luigi asked Cooke to write a song for a girl they saw on a Perry Como television show. However, after they actually heard the lass sing, they decided Sam Cooke should record ‘Cupid’ himself. This track is Cooke’s most gravity-defying effort since ‘You Send Me’. “Cupid, draw back your bow / And let your arrow go / Straight to my lover’s heart / For me, for me,” urges Cooke. At Cooke’s suggestion, this dreamy confection sports a cymbal stroke to simulate the sound of an arrow in flight.
Despite the title, Sam Cooke’s album ‘My Kind Of Blues’ (1961), issued in October, does not consist entirely of renditions of blues songs. Rather, it is a mix of all the familiar genres present in Cooke’s music – though it contains no original Sam Cooke compositions.
Sam Cooke’s last single for 1961 is ‘Feel It’ (US no. 56) b/w ‘It’s All Right’ (US no. 93).
‘Twistin’ The Night Away’ (US no. 9, UK no. 6), issued on 9 January 1962, is Sam Cooke’s next single release. Although it’s a pleasant and popular song, ‘Twistin’ The Night Away’ is a late arrival to the party. ‘The Twist’ was recorded first by Hank Ballard And The Midnighters in early 1959. The 1960 cover version of ‘The Twist’ by Chubby Checker was more commercially successful and spawned the dance craze of The Twist. Checker followed that with 1961’s ‘Let’s Twist Again’. Joey Dee And The Starlighters got into the act too with 1961’s ‘The Peppermint Twist’. The album ‘Twistin’ The Night Away’ (1962) (US no. 74) follows in April. As well as the title track, this disc includes the earlier song ‘That’s It, I Quit, I’m Movin’ On’ and ‘Sugar Dumpling’ (which will become a posthumous single). ‘Twistin’ The Night Away’ is the first Sam Cooke album to make the charts since his debut, ‘Songs By Sam Cooke’ (1958).
The single ‘Bring It On Home To Me’ (US no. 13) b/w ‘Having A Party’ (US no. 7) is released on 8 May 1962. If it is accepted that Solomon Burke’s 1961 recording ‘Just Out Of Reach (Of My Two Open Arms)’ is the first soul record, then there is no problem in acknowledging Sam Cooke’s 1962 song ‘Bring It On Home To Me’ as soul music. Sam wrote the song while he was on tour and based it on ‘I Want To Go Home’, a 1959 gospel call-and-response record by Charles Brown. ‘Bring It On Home To Me’ was initially offered to singer Dee Clark – who turned it down. Sam Cooke’s lead vocal on ‘Bring It On Home To Me’ is echoed by Lou Rawls’ gravelly delivery: “If you ever change your mind / About leaving me / Leaving me behind / Bring it to me / Bring your sweet lovin’ / Bring it on home to me.” Arranger Rene Hall uses an eighteen-piece band – including brass and strings – on this song. ‘Having A Party’ is another piece of teen pop with its incredibly innocent imagery of “The Cokes are in the ice-box / Popcorn’s on the table.” [An ‘ice-box’ was used to keep food and drink chilled before refrigerators became common household appliances.]
‘The Best Of Sam Cooke’ (1962) (US no. 22), released in August, is RCA’s first compilation of Cooke’s hits.
The single ‘Nothing Can Change This Love’ (US no. 12) b/w ‘Somebody Have Mercy’ (US no. 70) is released on 11 September 1962. “I love this very, very much,” says Sam Cooke of ‘Nothing Can Change This Love’. It is a slow, soulful ache accompanied by a tinkling piano and a string section. ‘Somebody Have Mercy’ is another gutsy performance with a nagging piano, huffing saxophone and a harmonica solo. There is a worryingly chauvinist tone to some of Sam Cooke’s lyrics here though: “When I think I got a tamed gal, she starts actin’ up again.”
Sam Cooke’s last single for 1962 is ‘Send Me Some Lovin’’ (US no. 13) b/w ‘Baby, Baby, Baby’ (US no. 66). ‘Send Me Some Lovin’’ is a cover version of a 1958 Little Richard song. As for ‘Baby, Baby, Baby’, Sam Cooke claims, “A repetitious phrase helps put the story across.” He adds, “A song should have a lilting melody.”
On 12 January 1963 Sam Cooke plays a gig at the Harlem Square Club in Miami, Florida. The audience is predominantly African-American. Years later, the concert recording ‘Live At The Harlem Square Club, 1963’ (1985) preserves the moment. It is of interest chiefly because it shows Sam Cooke connecting with a black audience without making any concessions to the sensibilities of whites.
Sam Cooke goes on a concert tour of the United Kingdom with Little Richard in 1963.
The album ‘Mr Soul’ (1963) (US no. 94) is issued in February. This set includes ‘Send Me Some Lovin’’.
On 2 April 1963 Sam Cooke issues the single ‘Another Saturday Night’ (US no. 10, UK no. 23) b/w ‘Love Will Find A Way’ (US no. 105). ‘Another Saturday Night’ was written while Cooke was on tour in the U.K. He found himself in a London hotel that had a strict ‘no female guests’ policy, so the visiting singer found himself feeling lonely. Although Cooke is a married man, it is perhaps worth mentioning that he was dogged by paternity suits and he is said to have fathered at least two children out of wedlock (not counting his elder daughter Linda who was born in 1953, six years before Cooke married Linda’s mother, Barbara Campbell). The humorous ‘Another Saturday Night’ is a good example of what Sam Cooke considers the key to good songwriting. “I think the secret is really observation. Well, if you observe what’s going on and try to figure out how people are thinking, I think you can always write something that people will understand,” Cooke says. At some point in their lives, pretty much everyone has been desperate and dateless like the protagonist of ‘Another Saturday Night’.
Tragedy strikes on 17 June 1963 when Sam Cooke’s son, Vincent, falls in a swimming pool and drowns. Born on 19 December 1961, the toddler was almost 18 months old. Overcome with grief, it is ‘impossible for Sam to work in the [recording] studio until the end of the year.’ Since Sam Cooke material is issued in the intervening months, it is presumably tracks that were recorded prior to the death in the family.
In the second half of 1963, Sam Cooke goes into business with Allen Klein. A New York accountant and aspiring manager, Klein has a reputation as a ‘hard bargainer’ who is ‘very forthright.’ ‘He didn’t care who he upset.’ Cooke signs a five-year contract with Klein to manage the Kags Music publishing business and the SAR record label and to act as Sam’s manager. A holding company, Tracy Ltd (named after Sam’s second daughter) is set up to house the proceeds.
In 1963, Sam Cooke, his wife Barbara and their entourage are turned away from the Holiday Inn North in Shreveport, Louisiana, because it is a ‘whites only’ motel. When Cooke and company kick up a ruckus in protest, the local police arrest them for disturbing the peace.
‘Frankie And Johnny’ (US no. 14, UK no. 30) is released as a single by Sam Cooke in 1963. This is a traditional pop tune that was first copyrighted in 1904 by Hughie Cannon. “I consider myself an interpreter of lyrics,” Sam says and this piece gives him a chance to show that ability, even if it is a strange claim for a man who prides himself on writing most of the songs he sings.
The album ‘Night Beat’ (1963) (US no. 62) is released in August. It is described as ‘a beautifully self-contained, dark, moody assembly of blues-oriented songs.’ Amongst them is Willie Dixon’s ‘Little Red Rooster’ (US no. 11), first recorded by Howlin’ Wolf in 1961. Cooke’s version of ‘Little Red Rooster’ is more uptempo than the Howlin’ Wolf rendition. Sam Cooke’s younger brother L.C. Cook was going to record ‘Little Red Rooster’, but when he decided that ‘the blues was not his thing,’ Sam took a run at it. His version features a wheezing organ, bluesy piano and easy-going drums. Billy Preston, the 16 year old keyboardist, first works with Sam Cooke on this album. Also present on this disc is Sam Cooke’s take on ‘You Gotta Move’, a traditional African-American spiritual first recorded by The Two Gospel Keys in 1948 and later popularised by Fred McDowell in 1965 and The Rolling Stones in 1971. ‘Night Beat’ is said to be ‘one of Cooke’s best.’
Sam Cooke’s first recording after the death of his son Vincent on 17 June 1963 is ‘Good News’ (US no. 11), a single released on 22 January 1964. Although Cooke takes the songwriting credit for ‘Good News’, it is a secular reworking of an old spiritual. The narrative of this lively piece finds Sam’s character elated that a girl loves him, but it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see it could easily be transposed to the Lord who loves him.
On 15 February 1964 Sam Cooke announces that he will be cutting down on his touring commitments. Previously, he toured eight months a year, but now says he will only be on the road for two months each year. Cooke intends to devote more time to his songwriting and building his record labels, SAR and Derby. “I’m mostly staying home now,” he says a couple of months later, “writing and producing for other people.”
‘3 Great Guys’ (1964) is an album released in February on which Sam Cooke shares billing with Paul Anka and Neil Sedaka. Each of the performers contributes four tracks to this album’s menu of twelve songs.
On 25 February 1964 Sam Cooke meets the boxer Cassius Clay – who later becomes better known as Muhammed Ali. Sam Cooke, his wife Barbara, Cooke’s business partner James W. Alexander, Sam’s manager Allen Klein and Klein’s wife Betty are all in attendance when Cassius Clay defeats Sonny Liston in Miami. After the bout, there is one man Clay wants by his side: Sam Cooke. Clay is a tireless self-promoter but he giggles like a schoolgirl to be in the presence of Cooke. This illustrates just how famous Sam Cooke is by this time. Cassius Clay released a spoken-word album, ‘I Am The Greatest’ (1963), in September of the previous year. This included a track called ‘Hail Hail The Gang’s All Here’ which Cassius Clay reworks with Sam Cooke in New York on 3 March 1964.
‘Ain’t That Good News’ (1964) (US no. 34), released on 1 March, is Sam Cooke’s best individual album. Although his career is really more about singles than albums, this is probably the most satisfying of his long-playing discs. One side of the album is harder soul tunes while the other is devoted to more mellow ballads. Earlier singles ‘Good News’ and ‘Another Saturday Night’ are joined on the first side by ‘Good Times’ and ‘Tennessee Waltz’, the two sides of Cooke’s next single. From this album’s other side, ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ will later be issued on single (more on that in due course). As an album, ‘Ain’t That Good News’ is a well-balanced blend of rhythm and blues, pop and soul. This is the first album Sam Cooke records after his son’s death and, ironically, it is fated to be the last album Sam Cooke records before his own demise.
On 24 June 1964 Sam Cooke again plays the Copacabana Club in New York. This two-week engagement is publicised by a giant billboard. While Cooke’s 1958 gig at the same venue was not his finest hour, this time he is out to redress the situation and triumph. A live album of the show is recorded on 8 July 1964 and released in October as ‘Sam Cooke At The Copa’ (1964) (US no. 29). It is interesting to see Sam Cooke’s growing social conscience prompting him to perform versions of folk music protest songs like Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ from 1962 and the 1949 Pete Seeger tune ‘If I Had A Hammer’ (popularised by Peter, Paul And Mary in 1962). However, in the context of the whole show, this is Sam Cooke ‘at his most genial and non-confrontational.’ Although recorded only eighteen months later, this is markedly different to his Florida show at the Harlem Square Club on 12 January 1963.
The single ‘Good Times’ (US no. 11) b/w ‘Tennessee Waltz’ (US no. 35) is released on 9 July 1964. Both of these tracks are pulled from Sam Cooke’s album ‘Ain’t That Good News’, issued in March of this year. In the smooth ‘Good Times’, Sam urges, “Get in the groove and let the good times roll / I’m gonna stay here till I soothe my soul.” The Soul Stirrers provide backing vocals. ‘Tennessee Waltz’ is a cover version of a country song originally recorded by Pee Wee King in 1948.
‘That’s Where It’s At’ (US no. 93, UK no. 30) b/w ‘Cousin Of Mine’ (US no. 31) is a single by Sam Cooke released on 16 September 1964. ‘That’s Where It’s At’ is co-written by Sam Cooke and his business partner James W. Alexander.
Late in the year, Sam Cooke is invited to participate in an anniversary concert for The Soul Stirrers in Chicago. Although Sam is happy to sing with the vocal group so important to his early years as an entertainer, the crowd is openly hostile. It seems that Sam’s ‘betrayal’ of gospel music is not easily forgotten. Cooke leaves the stage in tears.
On 10 December 1964 Sam Cooke picks up a 22 year old Eurasian girl named Elisa Boyer. He offers to drive her home, but instead takes her to a motel on South Figueroa in Los Angeles where he registers them as ‘Mr and Mrs Cooke’. Elisa Boyer insists Cooke take her home but he forces her into the motel room where he proceeds to rip off her clothes. When he goes into the bathroom, she seizes the opportunity to flee with her own apparel and most of his. Elisa Boyer phones the police from a nearby phone booth. Clad only in his sports coat and shoes, Sam Cooke pursues her, mistakenly believing she has taken refuge in the apartment of the motel’s manager, a 55 year old African-American woman called Bertha Franklin. Cooke first pounds on the manager’s door, then breaks it down. He strikes Bertha Franklin twice with his fists. She pulls a .22 calibre pistol and shoots her assailant three times, one bullet hitting him in the chest. “Lady, you shot me!” exclaims Cooke. Despite being mortally wounded, Cooke charges Franklin again, so she picks up a stick and bludgeons him. When the police arrive, Sam Cooke is dead. He was 33 years old. The date is 11 December 1964.
This account of what occurred on the night of 10-11 December 1964 is based on the testimonies of Elisa Boyer and Bertha Franklin. Perhaps, if Sam Cooke lived, he would offer a different explanation for what happened that night. There are those who refuse to believe the singer who ‘was elegance and soul personified’ would behave in such a manner. Some think the investigation of the death was poorly handled and believe the case should be re-examined. There are even rumours that Cooke’s death was arranged by gangsters wanting control of his publishing interests.
Two funerals are held for Sam Cooke. The first is on 18 December 1964 at A.R. Leak’s Funeral Home at 7838 So. Cottage Grove in Chicago. There is a public viewing of the deceased in a glass-topped casket. Twenty thousand fans attend and there are hysterical scenes. The second, more intimate ceremony for family and friends is conducted on 19 December 1964 at the Los Angeles Mount Sinai Baptist Church.
Due to the death of Sam Cooke, the SAR record label shuts down in 1964. However, two members of The Womack Brothers/The Valentinos have further roles to play in this saga. Bobby Womack marries Sam Cooke’s widow, Barbara Campbell, three months after Sam’s death. The wedding had to wait until Bobby had turned 21. The marriage of Bobby and Barbara ends in divorce in 1970 after Bobby has an affair with his 18 year old step-daughter, Linda. Bobby Womack’s younger brother, Cecil is married to Motown Records singer Mary Wells from 1967 to 1977. Shortly after Cecil and Mary divorce, Cecil marries Linda Cooke, Sam’s elder daughter (and the woman with whom his elder brother had an affair). Cecil and Linda record under the name of Womack & Womack. They are probably best known for the 1988 hit ‘Teardrops’ (UK no. 3).
Following his death, Sam Cooke’s musical legacy continues.
The first posthumous Sam Cooke single is ‘Shake’ (US no. 7) b/w ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ (US no. 31), released on 22 December 1964. ‘Shake’ has a ‘dance-oriented soul sound’ and is high-spirited. ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ is Sam Cooke’s finest song. It was inspired by the 1963 incident where Sam Cooke and his entourage were turned away from a ‘whites only’ motel. ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ is unmistakably soul music. It’s grainy words sketch out troubled times but offer hope for a better future. It seems tailor-made for the growing movement promoting equal rights for African-Americans. In the light of the singer’s demise, some lines take on added meaning: “It’s been too hard living / But I’m afraid to die / I don’t know what’s up there / Beyond the sky.” ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ is ‘perhaps the greatest song to come out of the civil rights struggle.’ ‘Shake’ comes from Sam Cooke’s last recording session before his death; ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ is lifted from Cooke’s last album before his passing, ‘Ain’t That Good News’.
The album ‘Shake’ (1965) (US no. 44) is released in January 1965. This disc includes both sides of the posthumous single, ‘Shake’ and ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’.
‘It’s Got The Whole World Shakin’’ (US no. 41) b/w ‘(Somebody) Ease My Troublin’ Mind’ (US no. 115) is a posthumous Sam Cooke single issued in 1965. The B side – but not the A side – was on the album, ‘Shake’.
RCA issues the compilation album ‘The Best Of Sam Cooke Volume II’ (1965) (US no. 128) in July.
‘Try A Little Love’ (1965) (US no. 120), issued in October, is the last album of ‘new’ Sam Cooke songs. The title track, ‘Try A Little Love’, is co-written by Sam Cooke and James W. Alexander. ‘When A Boy Falls In Love’ (US no. 52), co-written by Sam Cooke and Clinton Levert, was given away to SAR Records artist Mel Carter in 1962 but Sam’s own version is released as a single in 1965.
‘Sugar Dumpling’ (US no. 32), previously heard on ‘Twistin’ The Night Away’ (1962), is released as a single in 1966.
The shelves finally seem bare with the release of ‘Let’s Go Steady Again’ (US no. 97) in 1966, Sam Cooke’s final single. RCA closes the door with ‘The Unforgettable Sam Cooke’ (1966), a compilation album issued in May.
‘Live At The Harlem Square Club, 1963’ (1985) is a live album issued by RCA that preserves a vintage Sam Cooke concert. The RCA compilation ‘The Man And His Music’ (1986) (UK no. 8) brings Sam Cooke back to the U.K. charts and, in association with this, two of Cooke’s old hits make the U.K. singles chart again in 1986: ‘Wonderful World’ (UK no. 2) and ‘Another Saturday Night’ (UK no. 75). Sam Cooke is amongst the first group of inductees when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is established in 1986.
‘Sam Cooke’s SAR Records Story 1959-1965’ (1994) is a two CD set. The first disc is devoted to Cooke’s gospel recordings; the second disc features mainly lesser known works from his latter pop career, rather than the big hits. ‘The Man Who Invented Soul’ (2000) is a box set. ABKCO issues the compilation ‘Portrait Of A Legend 1951-1964’ (2003) (UK no. 19). ‘The RCA Albums Collection’ (2011) is another box set.
“I’m gonna sing, and I’m going to make me a lot of money,” Sam Cooke once said. Cooke was a man of ambition. That allowed him to make his mark with spirituals, pop, and soul. Without his tremendous self-belief and appetite for popular success, such achievements would, for all his talent, probably have gone unfulfilled. Sometimes his ego resulted in episodes of excess such as the self-promoting billboard and maybe even the distasteful events that led to his death. Sam Cooke was not perfect or an angel, but in the recording studio his best works came close to perfection and the man could sing like an angel. Sam Cooke was ‘a true pioneer of black music.’ ‘His phrasing and articulation may never be surpassed.’
- ‘Rock Stars’ by Timothy White (Columbus Books, 1984) p. 72, 74, 75
- ‘Rolling Stone Rock Almanac’ by the Editors of ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine (Papermac, 1984) p. 33, 41, 47, 49, 53, 65, 85, 86, 89, 150
- wikipedia.org as at 14 January 2017
- Notable names database – nndb.com – as at 17 January 2017
- encyclopedia.com – ‘Sam Cooke 1931-1964’ by Thomson Gale (copyright 2003)
- ‘The Mike Douglas Show’ (U.S. television program, KYW Cleveland) – Sam Cooke interview conducted by Mike Douglas (1964)
- allmusic.com, ‘Sam Cooke’ by Bruce Eder as at 15 January 2017
- ‘The Illustrated New Musical Express Encyclopedia of Rock’ by Nick Logan, Bob Woffinden (Salamander Books, 1978) p. 59
- ‘The Sam Cooke Story Pt. 1 & 2’ – Video documentary (posted on You Tube, 7 October 2012, 18 October 2012)
- soulwalking.co.uk – ‘Sam Cooke’ – no author listed – as at 15 January 2017
- ‘Los Angeles Times’ (Los Angeles, U.S.A., newspaper) – ‘Silas Roy Crain: Founder of Soul Stirrers Gospel Quartet’ by Myrna Oliver (18 September 1996) (reproduced on articles.latimes.com)
- Internet Movie Database – imdb.com – as at 15 January 2017
- ‘The Rolling Stone Illustrated History Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’, ‘Little Richard’ by Langdon Winner, ‘Sam Cooke’ by Joe McEwan, ‘Soul’ by Peter Guralnick (Plexus Publishing, 1992), p. 55, 135, 136, 137, 138, 261
- google search as at 15 January 2017 [marriage dates for Dolores Mohawk, Barbara Campbell]
- whosdatedwho.com as at 15 January 2017
- ‘The Illustrated Rock Handbook’ edited by Roxanne Streeter, Ray Bonds (Salamander Books, 1983) p. 49, 87, 246, 254
- ‘American Bandstand’ (U.S. television program, ABC network) – Sam Cooke interview conducted by Dick Clark (4 April 1964)
- ‘Somewhere There’s A Girl’ video on You Tube – uploaded 29 May 2010 by skorecki7
- waybackattack.com – ‘Sam Cooke’ by Michael Jack Kirby as at 19 January 2017
- metrolyrics.com as at 16 January 2017
- ‘Rhythm and Blues Magazine’ – Sam Cooke interview conducted by Don Paulson (July 1964) reproduced on songsofsamcooke.com
- ‘The Magnificent Montague’ (U.S. radio program, KGFJ Los Angeles) – Sam Cooke interview conducted by Nathaniel ‘Magnificent’ Montague (1962)
- songsofsamcooke.com as at 14 July 2013
- findagrave.com as at 19 January 2017 [Dolores Elizabeth Milligan Cook, Vincent Lance Cooke]
- allmusic.com – ‘Sam Cooke’s SAR Records Story 1959-1965’ (1994) – review by Steve Huey as at 19 January 2017
- discogs.com as at 19 January 2017
- You Tube – ‘Artist Bio – Sam Cooke’ by Bruce Eder as at 8 July 2013
- ‘The Beatles’ edited by Jeremy Pascall, Robert Burt (Octopus Books, 1975) p. 60
- ‘Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke’ by Peter Guralnick (Little, Brown and Company, 2005) – Excerpt reproduced as ‘Great Encounters # 2…Cassius Clay, Malcolm X and Sam Cooke – The Clay/Liston Fight, Miami, 1964’ on jerryjazzmusician.com
- ‘The 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time’ – ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine (February 2004) p. 71
- brainyquote.com as at 15 January 2017
Song lyrics copyright ABKCO Music Ltd. admin. by MCA Music Ltd. with the exception of ‘Good Times’ (Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, ABKCO Music Inc., Downtown Music Publishing)
Last revised 28 January 2017