The Tragic Life of Sam Cooke, the King of Soul

In January 2021, if he were alive, Sam Cooke would have turned 90 years old. However, he died in 1964, aged just 33, murdered by the manager of a hotel in Los Angeles after an argument. Sam was at the height of his career and was known as the Soul King. With a beautiful and very characteristic voice, Sam influenced artists such as Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Bobby Woomack, Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, and James Brown, among others. For many, his tragic death left an unfilled gap in American music.

Born in 1931 in Mississippi, Samuel Cook (without the “e” he added later) moved with his family at a very young age to Chicago. He started singing professionally at the age of six and soon stood out with his smooth, clear, and refined voice. The gospel repertoire was switched to pop, which was unusual for artists at the time. It exploded with today’s classics like Cupid, Wonderful World (used in the movie The Witness), Chain Gang, and A Change Is Gonna Come, among others.

In the early 1960s, Sam became involved with the Civil Rights movement and part of his activism is portrayed in the Amazon Prime film One Night In Miami directed by Regina King. The film, which is not biographical and imagines a fictional night where Sam Cooke, Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, and Jim Brown met, is one of the most awarded films of the year. Tony and Grammy winner for Hamilton, Leslie Odom Jr. plays Sam Cooke. Not only is he the same physically and vocally (it’s very impressive) but he composed the beautiful Speak Now that closes the credits.

Sam Cooke‘s life was marked by pain and tears. His artistic contribution to the music industry, popularizing soul, and writing his own songs (unusual at the time) was important, with the singer making a point of maintaining control over his career, including opening his own record label. Sam was married twice. His first marriage ended in divorce and his ex-wife died in a car accident a few years later. He had three children with his second wife, Barbara Campbell, but the youngest of the two drowned in a swimming pool at the age of two.

The circumstances of his death were never fully clarified. According to hotel manager Bertha Franklin, she shot Sam in self-defense (American justice accepted). Friends, such as singer Etta James, who saw the body, argue that Sam was murdered after being beaten up badly, which would rule out the manager’s version.

Sam Cooke‘s life was marked by pain and tears. His artistic contribution to the music industry, popularizing soul, and writing his own songs (unusual at the time) was important, with the singer making a point of maintaining control over his career, including opening his own record label. Sam was married twice. His first marriage ended in divorce and his ex-wife died in a car accident a few years later. He had three children with his second wife, Barbara Campbell, but the youngest of the two drowned in a swimming pool at the age of two.

The circumstances of his death were never fully clarified. According to hotel manager Bertha Franklin, she shot Sam in self-defense (American justice accepted). Friends, such as singer Etta James, who saw the body, argue that Sam was murdered after being beaten up badly, which would rule out the manager’s version.

A few months after Sam’s murder, Barbara married Bobby Womack, a friend of the singer. Linda Cooke, daughter of Barbara and Sam, became a successful songwriter and married Bobby’s brother Cecil, with whom she formed the duo Womack & Womack.

One of the most beautiful moments of One Night in Miami is when Sam Cooke sings A Change Is Gonna Come, considered one of the greatest classics of the Civil Rights movement.

Remember 10 Sam Cooke hits.

Deixe um comentário

Preencha os seus dados abaixo ou clique em um ícone para log in:

Logotipo do WordPress.com

Você está comentando utilizando sua conta WordPress.com. Sair /  Alterar )

Imagem do Twitter

Você está comentando utilizando sua conta Twitter. Sair /  Alterar )

Foto do Facebook

Você está comentando utilizando sua conta Facebook. Sair /  Alterar )

Conectando a %s