Sam Cooke                            

THE MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF SAM COOKE:

Sam Cooke was born in Clarksdale, MS. On Jan. 22, 1931.  He started singing in his father's church and would later embark on a singing career with the legendary gospel group "The Soul Stirrers."  After several successful years, Cooke decided to leave the group and focus on a solo career in Pop and R&B.

His first effort was a self-penned tune entitled "You Send Me," which would sell 1.7 million units and top the Pop and R& B charts. Cooke continued to sing, produce, write and arrange.   Cooke had a succession of number one hits which included: Cupid, Twisting The Night Away, Chain Gang and Having A Party.  In 1958, Cooke would place five songs on Billboards Top 100 chart, he was second to Elvis Presley in record sales.  He had enormous crossover appeal and he would send women in a frenzy with his mesmerizing voice, sexy good looks and undeniable sex appeal.

Cooke was being hailed as the creator of soul music and he became the first R&B legend to reach global status, he translated soul music into sophisticated higher paying markets.  He encouraged younger artists Aretha Franklin and Smokey Robinson to follow his lead.  He also did outside production work for Johnny Taylor, The Shirelles and his protege, Bobby Womack.

In 1959, Cooke married his childhood sweetheart Barbara.  They had three children over the next four years.  Cooke moved his family into a beautiful Hollywood Hills home, he also purchased a Ferrari.  Happiness was short-lived, Cooke's eighteen month son Vincent drowned in the family pool.  The marriage became strained and the Cooke's separated.

Cooke immersed himself in his business ventures, he made history by becoming the first African-American who fought for and received his songwriting and publishing rights.  He also founded his own record label, owned the company that manufactured his records and he purchased a beer brewery in Baltimore.  These feats were unheard of for an African-American in the 1960's.

By 1964, Cooke was on top of the world professionally, his greatest hits album stayed on the charts nine months and 29 of his songs had become Top 40 hits.   Cooke was extremely wealthy due to his career and numerous business interests.

On Dec. 11, 1964, Cooke was approached by shadowy figures who wanted to buy into his lucrative businesses.  Sam declined the offer by saying, 'I like being my own man.' Later that evening, Cooke left a popular night club with a beautiful Euro Asian woman named Lisa Boyer (above).  According to Boyer, Cooke drove her to a seedy motel in South Central and tried to rape her, when she broke free, Cooke allegedly chased her through the courtyard. 

When she reached the manager's office, Cooke stormed in behind her.  The motel manager Bertha Franklin (above) was frightened by Cooke's irrational behavior, she would pull out a gun and shoot him four times, he would die instantly.  This was the official story fed to the media outlets around the world.

After a brief trial, the jury deliberated for fifteen minutes and came back with a verdict of justifiable homicide.  Bertha Franklin and Lisa Boyer were free.  

The Cooke family hired an private investigator who uncovered the following facts:

Cooke had dated Lisa Boyer three weeks prior to his murder despite the fact that numerous people warned him about her colorful past which included prostitution.  If Cooke was dating her, why would he try to rape her?

Singer Etta James revealed in her book "Rage To Survive,"  that Cooke was so badly beaten that his head was decapitated from his shoulders, his hands were broken and crushed, his nose was smashed and he had a two inch bump on his head.  These injuries were never explained and a woman could not inflict these type of injuries.

Bertha Franklin had a .32 registered in her name yet she killed Cooke with a .22, she would move to Michigan and die eighteen months later.

Lisa Boyer would be arrested for prostitution one month after Cookes death and in 1979 she would be found guilty of second degree murder in the shooting death of her boyfriend.

OTHER INTERESTING FACTS:

Singer Otis Redding would die four years later on the exact day that Sam Cooke was killed.

Cooke's widow married Bobby Womack three months after his death.  They have since divorced.

Barbara sold the Sam Cooke publishing catalogue to a Jewish businessman for a mere $103,000.   This catalogue currently generates $3-5 million per year.

Sam Cooke accomplished more in seven years (1957-1964) than most artists accomplish in their entire careers.  He was one of the first singers to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.

Source: "You Send Me: The Life And Times Of Same Cooke" by Daniel Wolff, S.R. Crain, Clifton White and G. David Tenenbaum.

 

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