D.O.B.: January 22, 1931 (Clarksdale, MI)
D.O.D.: December 11, 1964 (Los Angeles, CA)
Cause of Death: Homicide
Location: Forest Lawn Glendale; Garden of Honor
Sam Cooke wrote much of his own material and even established his own business empire to better realize his far-reaching musical ambitions. A famous singer who wrote "Somewhere There's a Girl" for his first wife who died in a car crash. He was shot by a motel manager for chasing a woman.
In 1956 he made his secular pop debut with the single "Lovable," recorded under the alias Dale Cooke in an attempt not to alienate his gospel fan base; however, when the owner of the Soul Stirrers' label, Specialty, objected to the producer plans for a follow-up effort, Cooke was released from his contract.
Upon signing to the tiny Keen label, he was under his own name in 1957 with the self-penned "You Send Me," a majestic soul confection which sold some two million copies and made him a star.
A series of hits that were mostly romantic ballads and novelty tunes followed over the next two years, most notably the Top 40 hits "Wonderful World," "Only Sixteen" and "Everybody Likes to Cha Cha."
At RCA, Cooke's gifts reached their full potential as he did a string of early 1960s hits ranging from "Sad Mood" to "Bring It on Home to Me," with the smooth soul of "Another Saturday Night" and the R&B of "Twisting the Night Away."
The circumstances surrounding his tragic murder remain unclear. According to initial reports, he was shot three times by Bertha Franklin, the manager of Los Angeles' Hacienda Motel. She claimed she acted in self-defense after Cooke raped a 22-year-old woman and then turned to Franklin after the young woman escaped. The shooting was ruled a justifiable homicide.
In 1986, he was named a charter inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
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