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The Bizarre And Tragic Death of Soul Icon Sam Cooke

Words By: Roland Ellis | December 10th, 1965

The Bizarre And Tragic Death of Soul Icon Sam Cooke

By the time he reached the age of 33, Sam Cooke had established himself as a towering figure in the music industry. Over ten million albums sold; a long run of hit singles on both the R&B and pop Billboard charts signifying his status as a true crossover artist; film roles starting to roll in. Basically, he was a bonafide big deal who showed no signs of letting up.

His was a life cut far too short, and yet he left behind a legacy that will keep on giving for many a lifetime.

So when he was murdered at 33 in bizarre circumstances it was tragic on a few fronts. Not only had the world lost a great artist, but an artist in his prime. It wasn't Hemingway shooting himself at 61, or even a 44 year old Marvin Gaye being gunned down by his old man. It was a guy who probably still had a hell of a lot to give artistically. And that's not to say that suicide/murder shouldn't be considered tragic when it involves someone a little long in the tooth. It's just that unlike those other guys, Sam Cooke was only just hitting his straps when he was gunned down, and as a result, a landmark piece of work was potentially left in the tank.

I think he would've loosened up as the sixties wore on. Probably more apt is to say that his record company might've loosened up and released studio cuts that showcased his voice in the raw form that can now only be found on his live recordings.

But as it stands we'll never know, and there's undoubtedly a brightside to that fact. Ie., he might've ended up in complete disarray - collaborating with Metallica; or doing way too much cocaine and deciding that it's a good idea to cover 'Dancing In The Street'. Instead he remains forever young, as they say.

Fifty years on we mark the death of Sam Cooke. His was a life cut far too short, and yet he left behind a legacy that will keep on giving for many a lifetime. Continue resting in peace, big guy.


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