THE SHOOTING OF SAM COOKE DESCRIPTION: In December 1964, the King of Soul, Sam Cooke, checked into a sleazy, $3 motel in downtown L.A., allegedly having kidnapped a ‘Eurasian’ woman. Less than two hours later, he had been shot dead by the motel manager.

The court ruled it justifiable homicide, but 50 years later, suspicion still surrounds the events of that night. Witness statements contradict each other; the Eurasian woman was later arrested for prostitution; and intriguingly, many of Sam’s effects, like the thousands of dollars he was seen to be carrying earlier that night, were never recovered. Did The Mob lure him into a trap, using a prostitute? Was Sam’s estranged wife involved somehow? Did a third party murder him for his royalties? Were the investigating detectives corrupt?

Such speculation overwhelms Sam’s legacy as the pioneer of soul music, business entrepreneur and civil rights activist. With the help of a private detective, Dotun Adebayo examines the never-before-aired coroner’s report, searching for signs of foul play, and scrutinises testimonials. He interviews key witnesses, like Grammy-winning record producer Al Schmitt, who was the last person to see Sam alive, and speaks to Sam’s living relatives.

Dotun takes a magnifying glass to the events of that fateful night, with the intent to unravel what really happened.
A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 2. Produced by Graihagh Jackson. (BBC, RADIO 2)


First shown on the 50th anniversary of his death, this programme celebrates the life of Sam Cooke. As we are all aware he is
considered to be one of the pioneers and founders of soul music and is commonly known as the King
of Soul for his distinctive vocal abilities and influence on the modern world of music.

This BBC Radio 2 Documentary will look into his musical life – Cooke had 30 U.S. top 40 hits between 1957 and 1964, and a further three after his death. Major hits like ‘You Send Me’, ‘A Change is Gonna Come’, ‘Cupid’, ‘Chain Gang’, ‘Wonderful World’ and ‘ Twistin’ the Night Away’ are some of his most popular songs.

We then look at his professional life. Cooke was also among the first modern black performers and
composers to attend to the business side of his musical career. He founded both a record label and a publishing company as an extension of his careers as a singer and composer. He also took an active part in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. His pioneering contributions to soul music led to the rise of Aretha Franklin, Bobby Womack, Al Green, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and popularised the likes of Otis Redding and James Brown. (BBC, RADIO 2)


About author View all posts


Music addict for life, so I am in the right place.. :)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.