Friday, July 23, 2010
Two Forgotten Friday Favorites: Sam Cooke
Like Roy Orbison, I believe the late Sam Cooke deserves his own movie biography. He wrote and sang several hits that topped the charts in the late 50s/early 60s, made the transition from gospel to soul music, and founded his own record label. And not to sound superficial, but he was tres handsome, too. Aretha Franklin said on a PBS documentary about Cooke's life called Sam Cooke: Legend that he quite effortlessly took women’s breaths away with his handsome looks and charismatic charm.
He also died under mysterious circumstances in 1964 at the age of 33 - the official police record stated that he was shot to death by a motel manager who thought Cooke was trying to rob her. Cooke was staying at the motel with a woman named Elisa Boyer, whom he had met earlier in the evening. Cooke's sister maintained that her brother, who was married at the time of his death, "...was first class all the way. He would not check into a $3 a night motel; that wasn't his style." And the great Etta James recounted in her autobiography years later that she viewed Cooke's body at the funeral home and his injuries were far worse and sinister than a simple gunshot wound.
Whatever the cause of death, Cooke leaves behind a remarkable legacy of music: hits such as You Send Me, Cupid, Chain Gang, I Love You For Sentimental Reasons, Wonderful World, Bring it on Home to Me, We're Having a Party, Another Saturday Night and Twistin' the Night Away. He also wrote a civil rights anthem called A Change is Gonna Come which Seal re-recorded a couple of years ago.
Needless to say I had a hard time deciding which two songs to highlight, so I picked a contrast of styles: You Send Me (because it's so beautiful and I haven't heard it on the radio in years) and one that makes me want to dance: Shake. Now c'mon, Hollywood - make a movie about this man - stat!
Cooke doesn't actually appear in this video, but I love the vintage dance clips!