A “pod” (display case) filled with artifacts associated with the life and career of the late Sam Cooke is now on display at The GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles in recognition of what would have been the late artist’s 80th birthday. Museum staff gathered the artifacts, a number of which were loaned by Jody Klein, ABKCO Music and Records CEO, to launch the display in conjunction with Black History Month. It is expected that the Sam Cooke “pod” will be on view for the remainder of this year.
Its contents include an original pressing (on the Keen label) of Cooke’s big initial breakthrough hit “You Send Me,” the publishing contract for “A Change Is Gonna Come,” one of his stage outfits, a mailer heralding his epochal run at New York’s Copacabana, an original LP of Sam Cooke at the Copa and a first pressing of Ain’t That Good News, the first album release from Cooke’s Tracey Records, one of the first Black artist-owned labels.
In 1986, 25 years after his passing, Cooke was among the first Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, alongside Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly. His transition from gospel music to R&B and rock ‘n’ roll was the template followed by soul/urban performers for the past 60 years.
Aretha Franklin noted, “Sam was a singer’s singer who strongly influenced many male vocalists. He was loved, respected and revered by artists in the pop and gospel field of music, as well as by his audience, as a unique and extraordinary artist and human being.”
“Sam Cooke is somebody other singers have to measure themselves against, and most of them go back to pumping gas!” quipped Keith Richards while Muhammad Ali succinctly stated, “Sam Cooke was the world’s greatest rock-and-roll singer…the greatest singer in the world!”
Rod Stewart recently told Rolling Stone, “To explain what Sam Cooke meant to me, it would take a couple of hours just to scratch the surface. The man basically introduced me to soul music. The first time I heard him, his music hit me like a thunderbolt and just slapped me around the head. I was 15 years old, and he changed my life.”
Perhaps, Sam Cooke’s most influential song is “A Change Is Gonna Come” which eloquently decried racial discrimination. On the night he was elected President, Barack Obama, clearly was profoundly aware of the song when he invoked its central theme stating, “It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.”
Courtesy of Bob Merlis
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