Almanac: Sam Cooke


Sam Cooke performs in concert at New York City’s Copacabana Night Club in this undated photo.

Associated Press

And now a page from our “Sunday Morning” Almanac: January 22nd, 1931, 86 years ago today … the day singer-songwriter Sam Cooke was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

A minister’s son, Cooke was raised in Chicago and sang mostly gospel music before releasing his first hit, “You Send Me,” in 1957.

It soared to the top of the charts, and earned Cooke an appearance on Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand” in 1959:

Sam Cooke - You Send Me (Live) by pigcityrecords on YouTube

Many other hits followed, including “Chain Gang,” “Cupid,” “Twistin’ The Night Away,” and “Shake.”

But Cooke’s story came to an abrupt and shocking end in December 1964. At age 33 he was shot and killed in a Los Angeles motel by the manager, who claimed self-defense.

The coroner’s ruling of “justifiable homicide” in the sensational, headline-making case remains controversial to this day.

But there is NO dispute over Cooke’s talent -- and the role he played in popularizing soul music.

In fact, his song “A Change Is Gonna Come” is today an enduring classic of the civil rights movement.

Sam Cooke - A Change Is Gonna Come (Official Lyric Video) by SamCookeVEVO on YouTube