The King Of Soul!
Dubbed The King Of Soul due to his extensive legacy and undeniable impact on Soul music, Sam Cooke’s career was cut tragically short as he died at the age of thirty-three, shot at the Hacienda Hotel. The hotel manager, Bertha Franklin, told the police that she shot him in self-defense.
During his short career, between just 1957 and 1963, Cooke managed twenty-nine top 40 hits. Started out with You Send Me reaching number #1 in the U.S. making Sam famous overnight. The B-side was a cover, of Gershwin’s Summertime – not a bad first release!
His next cover was the now standard Blue Moon, although Sam’s version didn’t chart. Only Sixteen in 1959, reached #13 and was to be his next hit that has become part of his extensive legacy.
1960, Sam release one of his best-known tunes, Wonderful World, a song that has been covered by many, but Sam’s original version is the one that’s stuck. The same year he also released Chain Gang, which has since been sampled 15 times, most notably in 2003 by 50 cent on his 50 Shot Ya.
1961 he drops Cupid, 1962 Twistin’ The Night Away, and Bring It On Home To Me.
All these tunes are sweet and innocent and in the 50s and early 60s, this is what was expected by singers. Then Bob Dylan comes along and releases Blowin’ In The Wind in 1962 and everyone realises that you can sing about something meaningful.
This had an enormous effect on not just popular music in general but Sam Cooke in particular who after hearing it writes his greatest composition A Change Is Gonna Come, inspired by racial segregation he himself had experienced.
Unfortunately, Sam was killed before A Change Is Gonna Come was released in 1964 on the album Ain’t That Good News (the title track being another Sam Cooke classic!) so he never got to see the immense effect the tune had on popular culture.
On Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest songs of all time list, A Change Is Gonna Come reached #3.
In many ways, Sam Cooke became a legend after his death. It was as if the world had to catch up. His tunes have been covered by Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, John Lennon, Harry Nilsson, Otis Redding, The Supremes, Aretha Franklin, and many, many more.
There’s an extensive list available at whosampled.com should you want to dive deeper into Sam Cooke’s legacy.
Not only was he covered and sampled, but it also lists the many covers this great songwriter covered himself. I’ve mentioned a few already but the list is long, including Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ In The Wind which Sam couldn’t understand how it wasn’t written by a black man.
Sam Cooke is the perfect example of an artist that embraced other people’s tunes, wrote some great ones himself, and then in turn was covered himself, that’s why they named him – The King of Soul!
Sam Cooke tunes | Related pages
A Change Is Gonna Come
| G | G | Am | Em |
I was born by the river, in a little tent, oh and just like that river I’ve been running ever since.
| G | Am C B7 | Em | G |
It’s been a long, a long time coming, but I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will.
A Change Is Gonna Come chords.
| Bbm7 F7b9/C | Db6 F7b9/C | Bbm7 F7b9/C | Db6 F7b9/C |
Summertime, and the living is easy.
| Ebm7 Gb | Ebm7 Ebm7/Db | F7b9/C Gb7 | F7 |
Fish are jumping, and the cotton is high.
| B | G#m |
Don’t know much about history,
| E | F# |
don’t know much biology.