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"Chicago Streetwise Editorial "



and a Mississippi man helped make it possible.  So let’s go from Clarksdale to Chicago with Bronzeville’s SAM COOKE.
The family name is Cook with no “E”.  The first stop was 33rd and State street, but soon 3527 Cottage Grove became the permanent address for Annie Mae and Rev. Charles Cook and the family group “The Singing Children”.  Daddy was a traveling preacher who landed at a Chicago Heights church.  The family singers included young Sam but he was not the lead.  He did Doolittle Elementary, two blocks from home, and in September of 1944 Sam became an “A” student at Wendell Phillips High School.  The family group laid the foundation for Sam’s next step with the “Highway Q C’s” and then the “Soul Stirrers”.   The Chicago church community gave major exposure to many performers in those days before television.  Sam and the group were most loved.
1950 found Sam and the “Stirrers” in Los Angeles recording for Specialty Records and touring the gospel circuit.  Ambition grabbed Sam in 1956 when under the name of DALE COOK he recorded his first non-religious record “Lovable”.  The fallout resulted in Sam being dropped from Specialty and the Soul Stirrers.  And then came “YOU SEND ME”, a two million seller that was a blend of gospel, black and white music and sound with lyrical soul that pointed the direction for music well into the ‘70s.  Bad decision for Specialty.  Great move for Sam Cook.
Keen Records issued “Send, Win Your Love For Me, Love song from “House Boat” and “Wonderful World”.  Sam was singing, watching, learning and getting ready for his own label SAR Records.  Sam’s next big move was signing with RCA records.  “Chain Gang” was the first hit and HIT it did.  Sam was all over the radio and TV and his concert appearances were really big!!!  Imagine a concert with Jackie Wilson AND Sam Cook…they teamed up many times in a real duel of early soul singing.  I think they came to the Regal Theatre on the same show only one time.
Sam Cook the producer and businessman was busy recording talent for his SAR label in Los Angeles and in Chicago at Universal Recording.  Johnnie Taylor, Mel Carter, The Simms Twins, Billy Preston, Patience Valentine, and Sam’s brother L.C. Cook were all signed to the label.  The Womack Brothers and Bobby also recorded as the Valentinos with ”Lookin’ For A Love” done here in Chicago in 1962.  What was also important during this period was that Sam owned his company, owned his music, publishing and masters.
CHICAGO’S SAM COOK had hit the big time on stage in New York at the Copa…well,  not the first time…he failed to excite the crowd in 1957 but when he returned in 1964 Sam made the Copa crowd congratulate, with a standing ovation.  Aretha was there, and so were many fans and well known supporters.  The “live” albums of Sam’s on stage works show the excitement and grown-up style of the Chicago kid who used to sing on the corner of 35th and Cottage Grove for “change” given by the people coming home from work.  Brother L.C. handled the money, Sam did the singing.
Tragedy found Sam Cook in 1963 with the drowning death of his young son, leaving Sam unable to work for some time.  Then came December 11, 1964 and the end of Sam’s work on this earth, but not before Sam wrote and sang his most important song….the number one song for the civil rights era..  “A Change Gonna Come After hearing Bob Dyland’s “Blowing In The Wind”  “Change” was originally issued as the other side of “Shake” but later RCA pulled that version of the 45 and re-issued the single as it’s own ‘A’ side, with a short two min. version as originally issued and the longer album version. 

DINAH WASHINGTON AND SAM COOK = Dinah 8/29/24. Sam 1/22/31= Dinah in church  Sam in church =  Dinah works at Dave’s Café 55th and South Park.  Sam works at Blue Goose Grocery store 35th Cottage and Sears warehouse = DINAH AND SAM at Phillips High School = SAM lives at 3527 Cottage DINAH at 661 E. 37th St. near Cottage = Dinah 12/13/63 Sam 12/11/64.  SO CLOSE.

RICHARD PEGUE plays a lot of made in Chicago music including Sam and Dinah, Sunday mornings from 10 until 4pm on WKKC 89.3 fm and on “”.  E mail =

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