Samuel Cooke was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1931, the son of a preacher man. He had a relatively short career, but he did have a lasting impact on rock and roll and soul music. He is known as the “King of Soul,” even though “You Send Me” was his only number one hit, he had 28 other Top 40 hits ranging from 1957 until 1967.
“You Send Me” was written by Sam Cooke and it was his first hit. Sam started out singing in a choir in his father’s church. His parents wanted him to sing gospel music and he started at the age of nine, singing with two of his sisters and a brother in a gospel group called “The Singing Children”. He became a star when he joined the group, The Soul Stirrers. The Soul Stirrers are a gospel group that have been around for over 90 years, starting in 1926, the personnel always changing. The group is still active today.
Sam joined the Soul Stirrers in 1950 and stayed with them about seven years, when, in 1957, he decided to quit gospel and sing pop music. Actually, he didn’t quit, he was fired. A record producer named Bumps Blackwell heard him sing and approached him about a record deal. So, they cut a record using the name Dale Cooke. But, everybody could tell who it was. His voice was hard to camouflage. This upset the Soul Stirrers and so, they fired him.
His first recording as Sam Cooke, “You Send Me,” was recorded on the Keen label and didn’t take long to get to number one.
Sam Cooke’s career was a bright one. He influenced many artists and “You Send Me” has been covered by countless people. He came to an untimely end in 1964, when he was shot to death in Hollywood. He had taken a woman back to his motel for an evening of romance, except he didn’t have the permission of the girl and so, she fought back and escaped taking Sam’s clothes with her. Sam, thinking she was hiding in the motel manager’s apartment, pounded on the door and caused such a ruckus that the manager ended up shooting his three times in the chest. He died on her apartment floor.
“You Send Me” hit number one on December 7, 1957 and stayed there for three weeks.
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