Off Topic Messages

Gotta love Sam Cooke :-)

Thu Jul 28, 2005 7:05 am

Just chilling out to the amazing voice of Sam Cooke. Every time I listen to him after a significant gap, it's like rediscovering that voice again. A nice variety of material too, from gospel to soul to outright feel good pop. I'm not sure what the point of this thread is lol. Perhaps it's to say that music is good for the soul, as I was in a less than great mood before putting the headphones on. Sam the Man is right :)

Thu Jul 28, 2005 7:14 am

Cooke's one of the all-time greatest singers. He made it all sound easy. And he was a label-mate of Elvis' at RCA.

If you don't have Live At The Harlem Square Club (taped in 1963, issued in 1985) it receives my highest recommendation. The show is a revelation!

Sam The Man, God Bless Him.


Thu Jul 28, 2005 7:49 am

The way Sam was cut off in his prime, with so much left to offer, is the very definition of tragic.

Did anyone ever get the whole story of the circumstances of his death?? I read that he was with another man's wife, then I read he was with a hooker, then that he just accidentally wandered into the wrong motel room......

Thu Jul 28, 2005 8:24 am

The woman he was with was definitely at least a part-time hooker. The most likely consensus on what happened was that he went off with this woman for a brief tryst. The woman tried an old hooker's trick on him which is to take the guys pants and wallet. I think the guy is supposed to be slink away in embarrassment. However, many speculate Cooke, who probably felt insulted and was very protective of his personal property, was enraged. Somehow Cooke found his way to the room of hotel manager Bertha Franklin who was in cahoots with Lisa Boyer the hooker. The most likely turn of events was that Cooke demanded his money back and probably threatened violence and Franklin shot him.

The truth of the event remains largely shrouded in mystery as the LA police of the time shrugged off the murder as just another dead black man killed in a ghetto motel. It wasn't until the next morning that the department realized that the victim was a major celebrity. Perhaps looking to save face, the department did not exactly bust a gut afterwards trying to find out what happened. The coroner's inquest that followed was a superficial joke.

Franklin died only 18 months after Cooke. I'm not sure if Boyer remains alive or not. In 1979 though it is worth noting that she was convicted of second degree murder.

All the best information is gathered in Daniel Wolff's stunning Cooke bio. Whatever happened it is clear that the actions by these two women caused Cooke's death even if the shooting was accidental. Interestingly, Franklin shot three times and missed twice at close range. The shot that killed Cooke was done only two inches from his body.

Cooke's death was greeted with hysteria especially in the black community. Two funerals were held, one in LA and one in Chicago and they were both scenes of chaotic heartbreak.

Cooke, cut off at just 33, is one of the worst tragedies in all of pop music. Contrary to popular belief, Cooke was actually peaking artistically in the year and a half before his death. He had perfected a brand of deep soul, more fluid but just as Earthy as what happened at Stax records in the mid-60s. His lyrics matured with a deep philosophical bent and a profound social consciousness. "A Change is Gonna Come" is one of the most timeless and moving protest songs ever made.

As great as "Harlem Square" is I would pick up "Portrait of a Legend" and "Keep Moving On" first.

I agree TJ about the breadth of Cooke's sound which is not often celebrated. In addition to his soul, gospel and pop stuff he made many great records in a style that could be classified as black rock and roll. Records like "Wonderful World", "Another Saturday Night", "Twistin the Night Away" and "That's It I Quit I'm Movin' On" kind of stake out the middle ground between Fats Domino and Buddy Holly.

His tenor was one of the most beautiful instruments to ever grace pop music. Besides Elvis, he is my all-time favorite.

Thu Jul 28, 2005 8:35 am

Very nice to see that Sam has the respect of others on here. Thanks for the tips on what to pick up.

LTB, you mentioned A Change is Gonna Come and I agree that is a stunning performance. Doc is right, he made it sound so easy and there's perhaps no better example than on that song. I've heard Otis's version and it's ok, but not a patch on Sam's.

Thu Jul 28, 2005 10:23 am

Here's what to expect regarding Sam Cooke this year:

On September 6 three classic albums will be re-issued: Night Beat, Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963 and The Best of Sam Cooke. I hope Harlem Square Club will feature a better mix than on the The Man Who Invented Soul box set. That would be the real treat. Night Beat is a must have, though I don't know why it has to be re-released. Best of will feature bonus tracks, but I doubt a Cooke fan will need this album.

Probably August 30 will see the release of two Cooke tracks, "Ain't that Good News" and "(Somebody) Ease My Troublin' Mind", with newly recorded instrumental parts by Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton respectively as well as Les Paul (I guess) on the album Les Paul & Friends: American Made, World Played. Don't know what to think of it yet.

On October 18 we'll have Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke a biography written by Peter Guralnick. And you all know what to expect from him.

There's also a new TV documentary in production.

Thu Jul 28, 2005 7:36 pm

Wow, I must definitely check him out. I'd only heard of him cause he was mentioned in a Wallflowers song called Sleepwalker ("Cupid don't draw back your bow, Sam Cooke didn't know what I know..."). I checked him out because of that and I found out he had a song called Cupid, so go figure. So is Portrait of a Legend a best of CD?


Thu Jul 28, 2005 7:42 pm


you wrote:So is Portrait of a Legend a best of CD?

Yes it is. And it's definitely the one disc to get when you're new to Sam Cooke.

Thu Jul 28, 2005 8:49 pm

according to a documentary I saw on him, the price RCA paid to get his exclusive recording contract was $100,000
and that finally broke the record set by Elvis' $35,000 buyout from Sun.

Thu Jul 28, 2005 11:48 pm

I can't wait for Guralnick's book (finally, he works at a snail's pace) but it will have pretty darn good to to match Wolff's work which was absolutelysensational.

Thu Jul 28, 2005 11:59 pm

How can anyone not like Sam Cooke??

Without a doubt, one of the all time greatest singers there has been.

Wasnt the last record Elvis had on his player a Sam Cooke record??


Fri Jul 29, 2005 7:18 am

Sean Ryan wrote:Wasnt the last record Elvis had on his player a Sam Cooke record??

No. Allegedly, it was a test pressing of a gospel album by the Stamps.


Fri Jul 29, 2005 7:30 am

I too am a Sam Cooke fan. I also love the Live at the Harlem Square record, and consider it to be one of the best live albums soul music has produced. Equally good is the more polished Live at the Copa, it speaks to Sam's abilities as a live performer that he was able to so versitily tailor his shows to his audiences.

It is also interesting to note that when he was at RCA he was the label's second biggest selling artist- second only to our boy Elvis.

Sam the Man, here's to you.