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Tue, 01.22.1935

Sam Cooke, Lyricist and Vocalist born

Sam Cooke

*On this date, in 1935, Sam Cooke was born. He was a Black songwriter and performer.

One of eight sons of a Baptist minister, Cooke grew up in Chicago, Illinois.  In 1951, he became the lead vocalist of The Soul Stirrers, with whom he toured and recorded for nearly six years. He released You Send Me in 1957, and the 1.7 million-selling song was the first of his many hits. Cooke signed to RCA in 1960 and was a mainstay in the Top Forty Music list through 1965, with Sad Mood, Wonderful World, Twisting the Night Away, Bring It On Home to Me, Another Saturday Night, and Shake.

Cooke was also a groundbreaking independent Black music businessman. He owned his record label, music publishing company, and management firm.  Unfortunately, he was shot to death on December 11, 1964. Nearly forty years later, there remain questions about the circumstances surrounding Cooke's murder, and there have been talks of reopening the investigation. He was one of the first inductees of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

Sam Cooke's pure, clear vocals have been widely imitated, and his suave, sophisticated image set the style of singers for decades

To Become a Musician or Singer


Heart & Soul
A Celebration of Black Music Style in America 1930-1975
by Merlis Davin Seay, Forward by Etta James
Copyright 2002, Billboard Books
ISBN 0-8230-8314-4

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